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A Tool Kit for making your community safe from lead
Tool Kit has been produced by the Council LEAD Project NSW with the
support of NSW Environmental Trust.
Thanks go to The LEAD Group Inc., for hosting the project, including voluntary management by The LEAD Group Committee. Special acknowledgment goes to Patricia Parkinson for putting this tool kit together, to Carol Bodle, Colin Menzies and Elizabeth O’Brien for lay-out, feedback and editing and to David Ratcliffe for designing and maintaining the CLP website.
thanks to the members of the Council LEAD Project Steering Committee
for their valuable support, and contributions to the project:
Thank you also to all the members of the Reference Group: Peter Bourke, North Sydney Council; Grahame Collier, EPA NSW; David Eckstein, Jade Herriman & Steve Blaydon, Leichhardt Municipal Council; Steve Toohey, Inner Metropolitan Regional Organisation of Councils (IMROC) and Manager, Monitoring Service, Marrickville Municipal Council; Prof Chris Winder, Department of Safety Science, University of NSW; Dr Kelvin Wooller, NSW WorkCover; Michelle Calvert, Vice President, The LEAD Group Committee.
Special thanks to all the New South Wales Local Councils who inspired the Council LEAD Project, in particular, by completing the initial lead and councils survey.
LEAD Project NSW staff team:
Project Officer: Patricia Parkinson
Project Manager: Elizabeth O’Brien
Project Consultant: Colin Menzies
IT and Office Manager : David Ratcliffe
Administrative Officer: Margaret Johnson
Published by The LEAD Group Inc.
PO Box 161 Summer Hill NSW 2131
Phone 02 9716 0966
Title: Council LEAD Project (NSW) Lead Safety Tool Kit for Councils
Date of Publication: 1 August 2002
0-9581677-1-0 (Web Publication).
© The LEAD Group Incorporated
The LEAD Group is pleased to allow this material to be reproduced in whole or in part, provided the meaning is unchanged and its source, publisher and authorship are acknowledged.
Printed by Corporate Documentation Management Pty Ltd (CDM), Rosebery NSW
Disclaimer: The information provided in this document is given in good faith and to the best of our knowledge. Liability for errors and omissions in the contents or any web-link provided is expressly disclaimed.
Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning
Lead is an environmental contaminant, a health risk, and can kill
Lead has been an extremely versatile and useful product since recorded history began. For almost as long, people have been aware that it is a health hazard, but wrongly assumed that only miners and smelter workers were at risk. We now know that the biggest risk to population health is household dust contaminated by lead from older paints, leaded petrol exhausts or lead industries, mines and smelters.
Over 210,000 New South Wales residences each year are estimated to be potentially contaminated with lead paint, dust and soil through home improvement or renovation activity (based on an estimate of one million NSW homes built prior to 1970 and 21% of households undertaking some home improvement activity each year [BIS Shrapnel, 1998])
Children are most at risk, particularly those of crawling age living in pre-1970 houses where leaded paint was almost certainly once used, or in mining or smelter communities.
A major Sydney study found that in inner city suburbs, a quarter of all preschoolers have too much lead in their bodies.
Within a radius of 10km of the Sydney Central Business District (CBD), the latest published survey of prevalence of lead poisoning in children found that 25% of under 5 year old children have a blood lead level above the National Goal of 0.48 micromoles per litre (0.48 µmol/L or 10 µg/dL) (Mira et al., 1996).
In 1993, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) set a National goal for ALL Australians to have a blood lead level below 10 µg/dL (micrograms per decilitre). This is a very small amount - about equivalent to a teaspoon of lead in a swimming pool - but any level of lead in the body causes damage.
New research shows that lead is toxic at levels below our current National Goal level of 10 µg/dL, levels once thought to be safe (Lanphear et al., 2000). Prof John Rosen and Prof Bruce Lanphear have proposed to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that the CDC adopt new action levels beginning at a blood lead level above 5 µg/dL. Australia adopted the 1991 CDC action levels in 1993.
When lead is taken into the body via ingestion or inhalation, it initially attaches to the red blood cells. We naturally replace approximately 20% of these cells every 6-8 weeks, so our bodies expel some of this lead and it passes out of our bodies.
However, it takes roughly 10-12 months to do a ‘complete’ change of the red blood cells, so the body has plenty of time to absorb some lead into its soft tissue such as kidneys and liver. The body treats lead like calcium, depositing some in bones and growing teeth where it has a half life of up to 30 years and can be released into the blood years later.
Lead is a neurotoxin, damaging the nervous system. Lead will do the greatest harm to those of very young age. Young children under the age of four are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning because their brains and nervous system are still developing and they have a high level of hand-to-mouth activity, especially between one and two years of age.
Any lead dust or leaded paint particles lying around are likely to get into their mouths and be ingested. Children also absorb more of any lead they ingest into their bloodstream and other parts of their bodies than adults do - about 50% of swallowed lead is absorbed compared with 8-10% for adults.
fingernail size piece of lead paint can cause acute lead poisoning.
Councils are entrusted by local communities to act in the community’s best interests. Councils also have the capacity and the powers to influence their community's environmental safety and wellbeing.
"Local Council EHOs should be notified by PHU EHOs of lead exposures which resulted from council premises; or premises or activities regulated by Council. Individual councils have a role in ensuring property contamination that presents a hazard is noted in public records and ensuring that problems are remediated. Local Council EHOs also have a role to play in raising community awareness of lead issues, enforcing environmental regulations, preventing renovation and abatement activities which create community lead hazards. These activities include those of unsafe abrasive blasting, dry power sanding and demolition". [Extract from Investigations of Cases of Elevated Blood Lead Levels, Guideline for Environmental Health Office, Environmental Health Branch, NSW Department of Health, Lead Reference Centre, NSW Environment Protection Authority, November 1997].
Lead poisoning is increasingly becoming a successful cause of legal action.
In the United States of America, on the trail of tobacco litigation, some successful legal actions were recently brought against lead pigment manufacturers and local authorities. Landlords have also been sentenced to the payment of substantial damages on the ground of breach of the 1996 disclosure rule which requires property owners to inform prospective tenants and/or buyers of known lead hazards in a property. [See AECLP and Sue Lead Industry websites in Related Resources list.]
In France, the Paris City Council has been the object of a legal action by an "association of families of victims of lead poisoning" as a result of renovations undertaken by the Council and which led to the lead poisoning of some 60 children living in the building.
In Australia, the legal framework that would allow actions from lead poisoned victims is not yet in place. However there are signs of change, such as the precedent established in a decision of a 1999 NSW Residential Tribunal The Tribunal found a landlord liable and awarded damages for economic loss when the tenants had to move from a house with peeling lead paint.
With mounting evidence of the health damage resulting from lead poisoning, and in the light of the increased environmental responsibility and public liability borne by local authorities, it is legitimate for councils to seriously consider their potential liability in relation to lead.
The issue of council liability is essentially two-fold (Bawden-Smith, 1997):
In relation to the first category, the NSW legislative framework puts the onus on councils to investigate any potential land contamination when considering a development application involving change of use or rezoning. The Contaminated Land Management Act, 1997, also gives councils responsibility for the management of contaminated land that does not pose a significant risk of harm to human health or the environment Councils. (for more details, see the factsheet on Outdoor Shooting, in part 2 of this tool kit)
The latter category includes both Council workers involved in the maintenance of the buildings or infrastructure and the occupants and visitors to the building.
This is particularly important for infrastructure frequented by children, such as playgrounds and preschools.
Councils could be found liable on the grounds of negligence under Common Law. Liability would then depend on a Plaintiff establishing that the Council owed him or her a duty of care.
Another potential ground of action against councils is breach of statutory obligations.
In order to avoid any potential liability and more importantly, to protect local communities from the hazards of lead, it is essential for local authorities to identify any lead problem in their local area and to develop an appropriate Local Lead Action Plan. The Council LEAD Project has developed this Tool Kit in order to assist New South Wales local councils in this task.
The net benefits to the community of adopting a lead contamination prevention policy are conservatively estimated at $9 million per annum.
This is the conclusion of the "Impact Assessment - Development Control Plan [DCP] for the Management of Lead Contamination" conducted by the EPA (Economics and Environmental Branch, NSW EPA, June 2000).
Additional costs are associated with adopting lead safe procedures. They relate to increased project management time, additional training, equipment and labour resources, and are estimated at around 10% more in labour costs for an average renovation project. The total costs for NSW are estimated to around $35 million per annum.
On the other hands, the benefits to children, workers and the environment are estimated at $44 million per annum through "avoided loss of future earnings and the avoided loss from additional education expenses due to IQ loss in childhood". The impact assessment concludes that "as the adoptions of the DCP is voluntary, the full benefits and costs of the DCP will be limited to those council areas adopting the DCP."
The Council LEAD Project was designed to coincide with the launch of the NSW Environment Protection Authority document: "A guide for Councils in Managing Lead Contamination in Home Maintenance, Renovations and Demolition Practices - including an example development control plan".
The Council LEAD Project aims to encourage and support Councils in their endeavours to promote lead-safe communities and to adopt a lead development control plan as part of a local lead management strategy, in accordance with their capacities and their community’s lead risk profile.
This project is an initiative of The LEAD Group Inc., a community group dedicated to the elimination of childhood lead poisoning and protection of the environment from lead, and has been assisted by the NSW Environmental Trust.
A Steering Committee oversees the Project, with representatives from the Local Government and Shires Associations (LGSA), the Total Environment Centre (TEC), the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (DUAP), WorkCover NSW, Lake Macquarie City Council, CTI Consultants Pty Ltd, the Federated Municipal and Shire Council Employee's Union of Australia and The LEAD Group.
Despite councils becoming more willing to act to promote their community’s health, there are three main constraints on councils’ capacity to act:
The LEAD Group also operates the Lead Advisory Service Australia (LASA), and this service is part of the support services offered to all NSW Local Councils.
The Council LEAD Project (CLP) offers to Councils various types of supports, to assist Councils in assessing and addressing the lead issue. They have been selected after consultation with all NSW councils, through an initial survey of Council LEAD Project (CLP) Liaison Officers within each Council, undertaken in 2001.
Resource material: This CLP Tool Kit contains information covering most topics related to lead, and provides resources to tackle most lead related issues, complementing the Managing Lead Contamination in Home Maintenance, Renovation and Demolition Practices: A Guide for Councils developed by the EPA (see further: "How to use this Tool Kit").
Telephone support: The Lead Advisory Service Australia (LASA) is available during business hours for advice on any matter related to lead. It can be contacted by Council officers by phone, fax, or e-mail. Phone 1800 626 086, Fax: 02 9716 9005, email: www.lead.org.au/cu.html
Web Resources: The LEAD Group’s web site has a variety of down-loadable information and links on lead. We have also developed a Council LEAD Project link for matters particularly relevant to local councils. Visit today! Click on the blue and white Council LEAD Project button or go straight to www.lead.org.au/clp/clp.html.
This on-line support will be further developed we are pleased to announce, thanks to further assistance granted by the Environmental Trust NSW to The LEAD Group’s project. It involves among other things, the creation of an on-line referral database, and will translate in easier access for council staff (as well as members of the public) to The LEAD Group’s massive database of knowledgable experts and lead-trained contractors.
Network: A CLP e-Group has been set up by the Council LEAD Project team to facilitate communication between councils on all lead-related issues. If you are interested in joining and sharing ideas and experiences on setting up lead policies or want to be kept informed on the development of resources, look up our website and follow the prompts. If you are looking at an electronic version of this Tool Kit, just click on www.lead.org.au/clp/clp.html and follow the link to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CLP-NSW/ where you can join and will also be able to access documents in the files section and previous email postings of the e-group.
This Tool Kit is designed as an extension of the Environmental Protection Authority's Managing Lead Contamination in Home Maintenance, Renovation and Demolition Practices: A Guide for Councils, including an example development control plan, [hereafter referred to as the EPA Lead Guide for Councils] providing councils with support in their process of determination and implementation of a lead action plan, as well as providing additional information and resources.
This dual purpose is reflected in the structure of the document:
Part 1 - The 3-Step Guide to a Lead Action Plan
Assessment, Action and Awareness, a step by step guide to developing your local Lead Action Plan, adapted to your council's specific needs and resources
Part 2 – Hard Copies of Related Resources
A bank of lead resources including a selection of booklets, fact sheets and other lead awareness materials available in multiple copies for free. This complements the listing of available resources either on-line or as hard copy documents which appear in Part 1 at the end of each section.
Part 1: A 3-Step Guide to your Local Lead Action Plan
Becoming a Lead Aware Council is easy, just follow the step-by-step guide and design your local lead strategy.
Step 1: Assessment - Community Lead Risk Assessment
Defining your local area’s lead risk profile, investigating lead hazards, testing for lead, the assessment of lead hazards in your local area is a prerequisite to determining the importance of the lead strategy in your local council priority scale.
will also assist in selecting the type of policy that will most
efficiently ensure the lead safety of your local community.
Set an example and ensure lead safety in all council-controlled activities and assets.
Explore the various regulatory and planning powers options for enforcing lead safety in your local area.
Step 3: Awareness - Community Education / Awareness Campaigns
Awareness is the essential element of a good lead strategy, keeping in mind that lead poisoning is totally preventable and the best "treatment" is prevention.
You will find in Step 3 a smorgasbord of lead education campaign material: pamphlets, posters, fact sheets … and advice on how to conduct successful lead education in your community.
The related resources, referred to within each section of the 3-Step Guide, are available in either or both of two forms:
The majority of the resources are in electronic form, allowing this Tool Kit to remain a manageable size as well as facilitating update of existing documents (especially database reports) and adjuncts of new resources.
The hard copy documents are mostly coloured fact sheets, booklets and posters, either not available electronically or for which multiple copies can be obtained for the purpose of awareness campaigns and include the "must have" information.
Resources available relating to each section of the Tool Kit are listed in two places in the Kit: