|LEAD Action News Volume
12 Number 3, May 2012, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News (ISSN 1440-0561)
The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Xstrata is clearly the largest lead miner in Australia, with a 55% ownership of the tonnage of lead mining and exploration. In all the countries where Australian lead is in use Xstrata’s contribution to research on treatment for low blood lead levels (especially research for improving case management among the aging), payment for carrying out national blood lead surveys of all ages, lead abatement programs, lead awareness campaigns and loans for DIY lead remediation, should therefore be greatest of the Australian lead mining companies. And the Minerals Council of Australia could pitch in.
The research that we’d most like to see done, would be double blind trials (where appropriate) of the following potential lead poisoning treatments:
Two of the three biggest mining companies which will be affected by the mining tax (Federal Mineral Resource Rent Tax (MRRT)) are also the two largest lead mining companies in Australia: Xstrata and BHP Billiton. The LEAD Group calls on the Federal Government to use some of the mining tax on the above issues relating to lead. The LEAD Group is at the forefront of disseminating, globally, knowledge about lead management via its Global Lead Advice and Support Service (GLASS), and therefore calls for support for its activities.
The State and Territory jurisdictions which earn the most royalties from lead mining should put money towards on-line and media programs on lead awareness, etc. These programs would benefit the users of Australian lead, no matter what country they are in.
All Australian States have different policies on case management of lead poisoning. The responses to our question on this topic to State health departments indicate that each has a different policy, with Queensland being the best at analysing and reporting cases and trends, on line. Western Australia has the most stringent blood lead action level (5 µg/dL – micrograms per decilitre), but only for children under five years old.
It is clear from these responses from the Australian States that there ought to be a federal policy which the States have to follow. This standardisation of procedures makes a clearer picture of national health. Further, at the moment, neither the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), nor the Northern Territory (NT), have a public health response to elevated blood lead levels.
To fill in for the lack of policy in Australia, The LEAD Group’s federal environment department funded Global Lead Advice and Support Service (GLASS) attempts to disseminate knowledge and create information resources such as our library and newsletters. Several sample info packs by GLASS are published in this newsletter. With increased funding, the research, writing and publication of a raft of info packs on lead issues would be possible, for each Australian and State jurisdiction, and for each overseas country where Australian lead is currently circulating, in need of management.
By comparison, the US federal health department’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has for decades led the world with their excellent lead poisoning management and prevention policies. In mid-May, 2012, the CDC introduced the most stringent blood lead action level for children, outside of Germany. You can see their new fact sheet at www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/ACCLPP/Lead_Levels_in_Children_Fact_Sheet.pdf This historic shift in determining what is an acceptable blood lead level, is in recognition of all the research at http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/?objectid=4F04B8EA-B187-9EF2-9F9413C68E76458E - which demonstrates that even a little lead is still too much, for children and adults.
Always advocating for a Lead Safe America, lead health professionals and advocates in the United States are presently engaged in a lively debate on lead health policy; this will ensure that the United States continues to be at the forefront of protecting its population from lead exposure. In this issue of LEAD Action News, we reproduce some of this debate, from Leadnet.
In Australia, there aren’t enough lead poisoning prevention professionals who are willing to have a debate, so we’re holding a forum instead. Please see the flyer for “Eliminating Childhood Lead Toxicity in Australia: A Little is Still Too Much” forum on Tuesday 5th March 2012 below, and look out for the presentations which will be published at www.mq.edu.au/research/centres_and_groups/macquarie_public_health_research_network/
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Updated 08 June 2012
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