LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News Volume 13 Number 3, May 2013, 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.
Editorial Team: Elizabeth O’Brien, Zac Gethin-Damon, Hitesh Lohani and Shristi Lohani

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Lead Research/News

Articles collated by Prof Mark Taylor, Mark Laidlaw, Elizabeth O’Brien and Prof Brian Gulson, Summarised by Elias Chalouhi and Lan Nguyen, University of Technology Sydney (UTS)  Interns at The LEAD Group, May 2013

Childhood lead exposure linked to crime in adulthood.

By Mark Taylor, Bruce Lanphear, Damian Gore, Miriam Forbes, Sammy Zahran, The Conversation, (10th April 2013)

New study suggests that Australians who were exposed to high levels of lead as children may be at greater risk of committing violent and impulsive crimes two decades later. Lead exposure from soils and dusts in Australian communities can lead to a decrease in academic achievements and other learning abilities. A study conducted in several sites showed that higher levels of airborne lead resulted in higher assault rates 20 to 21 years later. Areas with higher lead levels tended to show stronger relationships between lead in air emissions and crime rates.

Possible Link Between Lead and Violent Crime

By John Stewart, ABC Lateline, (9th April 2013)

The preliminary findings of the first* Australian study of potential links between lead exposure and violent crime shows that suburbs exposed to high lead pollution levels also experience high assault rates. Interview conducted with a Lead poisoning victim demonstrates how his temperament and behavior changed in light of his exposure to Lead, which eventually resulted in a jail sentence.

* Professor Brian Gulson points out that in fact the first Australian research into this potential link between lead exposure and violent crime was done by Rick Nevin (as below).

Understanding international crime trends: The legacy of preschool lead exposure Abstract. AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

By Rick Nevin, published in Environmental Research, Editor-in-Chief: Ellen Silbergeld, (23rd April 2007)

Study shows a very strong association between preschool blood lead and subsequent crime rate trends over several decades in the USA, Britain, Canada, France, Australia, Finland, Italy, West Germany, and New Zealand. The results add to mounting evidence that preschool lead exposure affects the risk of criminal behavior later in life. Murder could be especially associated with more severe cases of childhood lead poisoning. Reducing preschool lead exposure would therefore yield further reductions in crime.

Garden Safe Garden Well

By the Indianapolis Foundation, (circa 2012)

Urban soils often contain high amounts of lead and other heavy metals which are harmful to human development, especially for children. Your soil should be tested, as it acts like a sponge often soaking up decades of harmful lead in the surface layers. Your Garden can become a much safer environment if you take the time to test your soil and respond with proper action if necessary.

Lead paint still on sale in Africa

By Anthony King, RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry) Chemistry World NEWS, (26th March 2013)

Paint containing dangerous amounts of lead is on sale in Cameroon, a study has found. Moreover, the subsidiaries of large multinational companies were among those found to be selling this paint.  This poses problems, which could cause birth defects, high blood pressure and brain damage. Mark Taylor, an environmental scientist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia says: ‘The lead in paint limit in the US is 90ppm, so selling paint with up to 500,000ppm is just incredible. Why would anyone do that? There have been adequate alternatives for decades.’

Dangerous soil in your home.

By Laura Sparkes interviewing Prof Mark Taylor, Katrina Cornford (mother of Rune with autism), Keilan George (mother), Warren Simmons (home owner, neighbour of Keilan), Kaye Oakes, Thomas Greig & Minister Tanya Plibersek, Today Tonight Ch7, (5th March 2013)

 The health of as many as 100,000 children under the age of five under threat from lead pollution, linked to intellectual and behavior problems. Professor Mark Taylor has stated that Lead by no means has disappeared since the phasing out of Leaded petrol in the past few decades. He has pointed out that homes near busy roads are most at risk.

City soils provide new lead

By Mark Laidlaw and Mark Taylor, The Australian Synchrotron, (1st January 2013)

The main source of high lead levels found in homes in western Sydney is not interior lead paint but lead from soils, according to a Macquarie University research investigation. The Sydney findings are consistent with earlier studies by US researchers, who found that soil accounts for around two-thirds of the lead in house dust with interior lead-based paint sources contributing the remainder. The researchers involved in the Sydney study concluded that soil and household dust remediation should be the primary strategy for cleaning urban areas where children were presenting with blood lead poisoning and soil lead concentrations were highly elevated.

Nyrstar agrees to transform lead smelter

By ABC Online News, (3rd December 2012)

An in-principle deal has been struck between Nyrstar and the Federal and South Australian Governments for a $350 million upgrade of the lead and zinc smelter at Port Pirie to a cleaner operation. It said the upgrade would substantially reduce lead emissions in the Port Pirie area by replacing the ageing 120-year-old smelter with a much cleaner metal processing operation. This is working to make the stigma of lead pollution a thing of the past for the region.

ABSTRACT at Environmental lead exposure risks associated with children’s outdoor playgrounds

By Mark Patrick Taylor, *, Danielle Camenzuli, Louise Jane Kristensen, Miriam Forbes, Sammy Zahran, (26th March 2013)

High levels of Lead and other metals have been measured in children’s public playgrounds in Port Pirie, South Australia due to Lead smelter emissions. Contaminated dust from smelter emissions is determined as the source and cause od childhood lead poisoning at a rate of approximately one child every third day. The data gathered in the study suggests that Nyrstar Port Pirie Pty Ltd smelter license arrangements are not adequate and need to be reconstructed. Smelter emissions must be eliminated or significantly reduced and city-wide and domestic garden soils need to be evaluated and remediated where necessary.

Revised California human health screening levels for Lead

By Office of Environment Health Hazard Assessment, California Environmental Protection Agency, (1st September 2009)

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has recently developed a 1 μg/dL benchmark for source-specific incremental change in blood lead levels for protection of school children (Residential) and fetuses (Commercial/Industrial) (OEHHA, 2007). The essence of this task was to estimate a concentration in soil that would lead to an incremental increase in blood lead (PbB) of up to 1 μg/dL, in people exposed to that soil.

Residential CHHSL* (mg/kg)

Commercial/Industrial CHHSL1 (mg/kg)

2005 Revised 2005 Revised  
150 80 3500 320  

Re-suspension of lead contaminated urban soil as a dominant source of atmospheric lead in Birmingham, Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh, USA

By Mark A.S. Laidlaw, Sammy Zahran , Howard W. Mielke , Mark P. Taylor, Gabriel M. Filippelli, Atmospheric Environment, (1st March 2012) AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE FROM

Soils are not passive repositories and periodic re-suspension of fine lead contaminated soil dust particulates may create seasonal variations of lead exposure for urban dwellers. In this study the temporal variations of atmospheric soil and lead aerosols in four US cities were examined to determine re-suspended lead contaminated urban soil was the dominant source of atmospheric lead. Lead aerosol concentrations must be decreased in order to defeat the legacy of lead, which continues to pose unnecessary and preventable health risks to urban dwellers.

Southern Cross GTS/BKN Broken Hill (Port Pirie)

By Alexandra Bryant, Southern Cross GTS/BKN Broken Hill (Port Pirie) Regional News,

(2nd October 2012) The blood levels of Port Pirie children are back in the spotlight. The latest monitoring report shows levels have not improved locally, since this time last year. Some claim it's a sign children are continuing to be 'poisoned'. Around 20% of kids are still recording lead levels above the World Health Organisation Standard of ten microgram per decilitre of blood.

ABC Southern Queensland (Toowoomba)

By Sam Burgess, ABC Southern Queensland (Toowoomba) 12:30 News, (2nd October 2012) An environmental scientist says a report on air quality in Mount Isa and due out next year is likely to provide greater cause for concern than last week's report on water quality commissioned by Xstrata. The water report found the area's water quality meets national livestock guidelines but levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead often exceed guidelines for human consumption. Taylor says air quality is the more pressing concern.

ABC Western Queensland (Longreach)

By Helen Shield, ABC Western Queensland (Longreach) Mornings, (2nd October 2012), Shield says Xstrata have funded an independent water study, which has found cadmium, copper, arsenic and lead in the Leichhardt River. She says the Mayor has insisted he is not concerned by the levels, and the local water board says the drinking water is up to standard. Xstrata have a challenging problem, but that they no longer release into the river and are doing their best. He doesn't believe the main exposure risk in Mt Isa is from drinking water, but is rather from the plumes over the town.

“Lead Wars” – The politics of prevention and responsibility

By Elizabeth Grossman, Science Blogs, (22nd May 2013)

Lead Wars shows that we have yet to resolve key questions regarding this toxic legacy. Despite numerous state and federal efforts to reduce the levels of new lead contamination, lead poisoning has been a result of contamination from lead paint in hundreds of thousands of homes. However, lead paint and pigment manufacturers are not required to contribute in removing lead paint, the costs of removing lead paint are thoroughly externalized with individual households. Also, there are ongoing impacts as lead poisoning has been affecting low-income and minority children and lead elimination  has not been popular outside the US and Europe.

Brain diseases affecting more people and starting earlier than ever before

By Bournemouth University , 10 May 2013, 

There is an alarming ‘hidden epidemic’ of rises in neurological deaths in 10 biggest Western countries over the period 1979-2010. It is claimed that this epidemic is influenced by environmental and societal changes. Statistics highlights a significant rise of neurological deaths in people under 74 with an earlier onset of the dementias. These rises have considerable impacts upon patients, their families and health and social care services.

FULL PDF AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AT: Changing patterns of neurological mortality in the 10 major developed countries – 1979–2010,

By C Pritchard, A. Mayers, D. Baldwin, April 2013, Public Health, Volume 127, Issue 4 , Pages 357-368, April 2013

There were comparisons between baseline WHO 3-year average mortality for 1979–81 and changes in 2008–10, for Total Mortality and the neurological categories Nervous Disease, and Alzheimer & other Dementias deaths in rates per million. Data revealed that neurological deaths differentially increased considerably in every country compared to Total Mortality, posing a major public health problem.

Sydney Harbour Bridge's toxic makeover

By Leigh Van Den Broeke and Laura Speranza, Daily Telegraph 30 May 2013

Sydney Harbour Bridge is set to undergo its biggest makeover in 81 years, to remove highly-toxic lead paint from its structures. The city side of the iconic bridge, which is used by bridge climbers and is closer to residential homes and offices in The Rocks, will be sanded back to bare steel and repainted with a non-lead-based paint - which will last 30 years.

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