LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News vol 1 no 1 Feb 1993   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.

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Strategies for eliminating childhood lead poisoning
How does your state measure up?

by Amanda Kirk

Last October the LEAD Group wrote to Health and Environment Ministers outside NSW asking about their lead abatement and management strategies. The letter sought to ascertain how each state and territory's lead control strategy measures up to our objectives.

The responses we received are summarised below, along with a summary of the situation in NSW, where the LEAD Group has been consulting with the EPA and the Health Department.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the responses is that all states except NSW appear to be merely passing the buck to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Victoria

The strategies of the LEAD Group (as outlined in the letter) are 'under consideration'. The ministers are awaiting the results of the NHMRC's review of levels of concern for blood lead levels and management strategies for lead in blood and air. The Victorian government considers these issues to be best dealt with at the national level.

South Australia

The SA health department will review the Port Pirie program to reduce children's exposure to lead in 1994, and take into account advice provided by the NHMRC's review of levels of concern.

The environment department said any decision to change the specification for lead in petrol will be based on review at the national forum, i.e. the NHMRC.

Western Australia

The WA health department also said it would be guided by the NHMRC in establishing levels of concern. A small survey by the department showed the average blood lead levels in children surveyed was below the US recommended community intervention level.

Therefore W A sees no need to introduce universal screening of 6-12 month-old children. They do state, however, that they would support improved training for health care workers.

The WA EPA cited its regulation which controls the lead concentration in petrol supplied in WA. The EPA's policy on leaded petrol requires that the concentration be lowered to 0.40g of lead per litre by 1 January 1996.

Queensland

The Queensland department of health outlined its procedures which include notification of blood lead levels above specified limits, restrictions on the use of lead in paint on buildings accessible to children, public information on the safe removal of lead paint and the targeting of children at risk for screening.

Blood lead screening of pre-schoolers is not routinely undertaken. In February 1993, Queensland Health will host an international meeting on lead which will determine, amongst other issues, and international consensus on blood lead levels and ambient air levels.

By January 1994, Queensland petrol will have a maximum of 0.40g lead per litre. The environment department only monitors ambient levels and regulates lead in fuels. There are specific regulations for hazardous operations and contaminated sites.

It is proposed that controls governing the emissions of lead should be guided by NHMRC recommendations.

ACT

The ACT has no policies for eliminating childhood lead poisoning because 'there is no significant lead related industry in the ACT and the introduction of lead free petrol has significantly reduced levels of lead in the air'. Again the ACT is expecting to comply with nationally set standards and guidelines, set by the NHMRC by mid 1993.

Northern Territory

There has been no response from the Northern Territory.

Tasmania

There has been no response from Tasmania.

NSW

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is producing a position paper on lead which will contain a range of policy options for consideration by the government. Once the preferred policy is adopted, the EPA will set up a framework for community participation in the development and implementation of strategies to bring the policy into effect. They will seek the LEAD Group's input at that stage.

The EPA's response emphasised the achievements already made in the reduction of lead levels, eg in paint and food containers.

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