LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News Volume 13 Number 1, November 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.
Editor-in-Chief: Zac Gethin-Damon

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Letter to The Hon. Tony Burke, MP: Please commit to a National Lead Poisoning Awareness Week for Australia

The Hon. Tony Burke, MPLetter

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

PO Box 6022, House of Representatives

Parliament House Canberra

ACT 2600      

Re: please commit to marking a National Lead Poisoning Awareness Week, beginning Oct 2013

Dear Mr Burke,

Thank you so much for your "gift" to us of another year’s funding for the Global Lead Advice and Support Service.

On Monday, 22nd October 2012, the 2013 Lead-Safe World Calendar and inaugural Volcano Art Prize were launched during The LEAD Group’s celebration of the 15th anniversary of Lead Poisoning Awareness Week, hosted by Melinda Pavey, New South Wales Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health, at NSW Parliament House.

As was announced at the launch by Louise Kristensen, a Macquarie University lead researcher at Broken Hill, in recent years, we have also put in place a process through the World Health Organisation and United Nations Environment Programme to declare an international global day of action to prevent lead poisoning.

Our contact at WHO and UNEP, Lesley Onyon, has suggested that we ask Australian governments for a commitment to lead poisoning awareness week nationally and at state level, and to commit to providing other national governments with any documents created in that process, which may be helpful to those other countries in developing their own national days or weeks to mark lead poisoning awareness.

Specifically, In Bangkok in July of this year, Professor Taylor of Macquarie University and The LEAD Group’s Committee and Technical Advisory Board attended, on behalf of The LEAD Group, the second meeting of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint (GAELP).

Having received an email on Lead Poisoning Awareness Day, 20th October 2012, from Lesley Onyon, Senior Programme Officer, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Health Organisation (WHO) (the organisers of the GAELP meeting), Louise Kristensen reported at the launch this week, the positive discussion that took place in July concerning the need to continue to raise awareness in every country of the issue of lead contamination and lead paint specifically. The Bangkok meeting also discussed ways of approaching the naming of an international week for lead action.

The proposed approach that was supported at the meeting, was to work with countries on initiating their own days of action by providing and sharing material. Those countries who can speak about the positive outcomes brought about by their state or national Lead days or weeks would help argue for an international week to be recognized internationally. It is probably a little too ambitious to expect that an international week could be marked in 2013. However, the representative in the Bangkok meeting from the USA, agreed to ask US government representatives to get support from other countries so that the topic might be discussed at a future World Health Assembly. I have not heard how she progressed with this so far.

The resolution adopted at ICCM3 – also expresses support for the proposal of the international day.

The Resolution on lead in paint - endorsed by the parties at the International Conference on Chemicals Management Third session (ICCM3) on Friday 21st September 2012 “expresses support for the Global Alliance’s (GAELP’s) proposal to establish an international lead poisoning prevention day of action, with initial focus on the elimination of lead in paints, and encourages all Governments, industry and civil society organizations in all regions to organize related activities in cooperation with the Global Alliance.”

Lesley Onyon’s email of 20th October 2012 (the 115th Anniversary of the publication in an Australian medical journal by a Brisbane doctor of the world’s first article on lead poisoning in children) also noted: [Australian government ministers could be asked] “to commit to sharing the materials that will be developed in Australia for Lead Poisoning Awareness Week, with other countries who are interested in establishing their own national days of action as part of a movement to see an international week recognized as soon as possible?”

I formally now ask you if your Department could be the first environment department in Australia to commit to marking Lead Poisoning Awareness Week annually, on this the 15th Anniversary of it first being marked by the then NSW Health Minister Dr Andrew Refshauge (Labor) in 1997?

If lead-safety messages for renovators, consumers, locavore gardeners and egg producers, people who drink rainwater off old buildings, and for those living near lead in air sources, were coming from multiple agencies and organisations, we could help many more Australians and people overseas to reach their IQ and longevity potentials.

Please find enclosed our gift to you – a 2013 Lead-Safe World Calendar.

My request to you is that you make a commitment to assist State governments and the Federal government to raise awareness about lead contamination and environmental protection from lead during the week of 20th to 26th October 2013.

I look forward to your reply,
yours sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien
President, The LEAD Group Inc
Ally, Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint (GAELP)
Partner, Partnership for Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles,
United Nations Environment Programme
26th October 2012

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