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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 On 23 May TPEHN put out another media Release:

Health status of West Coast residents needs answers

The effects of heavy metal poisoning, skin cancers and peripheral neuropathy on four Rosebery residents’ hands

On 10th November 2000, Alberton Consulting in partnership with Di Hollister (former Greens member of Parliament) produced the report titled Health Needs Assessment of the Communities of Rosebery, Zeehan and Tullah.

In this report they cited some very alarming statistics sourced from The Social Health Atlas of Australia - Volume 7: Tasmania (1999):

‘The Social Health Atlas presented a concerning picture of the health status of West Coast residents including:

* The Standardised Death Rates (SDR) for Tasmanian males aged 15-64 years from all causes for 1992-95 was 110. The SDR for West Coast males was elevated by more than 30% at a SDR of 147;

  • The SDR for deaths from cancer for non-metropolitan Tasmanian’s aged 15-64 years from 1992-95 was 99.  The West Coast SDR% was 154, that is, there were 54% more West Coast residents died form cancer compared to other non-metropolitan areas of the state;
  • The SDR for deaths from circulatory system disease (heart disease and stroke mainly) for non- metropolitan Tasmanians from 1992-95 was 108.  The West Coast SDR was 165, that is, 66% more deaths than would normally be expected;
  • The SAR for admissions of Tasmanians to public acute hospitals for treatment of bronchitis, emphysema and asthma was 107. The SAR for West Coast residents was elevated by more than 35% at 160;

The Tasmanian cancer registry only records a persons death from cancer based on where they died at the time.  It does not look into the previous residences of people for the purposes of investigating any potential environmental causes that may have contributed to the person getting cancer. Many people with cancer have to move from the West Coast to get treatment - mostly to towns along the north west coast. Their deaths will be recorded in these areas not on West Coast statistics.  This is a major problem for cancer researchers in Tasmania.

The above statistics speak for themselves.  There certainly is a need for a thorough public health investigation on the West Coast to help understand the causes of these health statistics and how these critical public health issues can be better addressed.

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