LEAD Action News
3 no 1 Summer 1995.
The LEAD Group Annual Report for 1994
by Elizabeth O'Brien, National Coordinator of The LEAD Group
The LEAD Group has around 90 members in Australia and their support is much appreciated.
We have had another full and excellent year's work from David Ratcliffe, office manager; Noela Whitton, media watch and support in every way including child care; Carol Bodle of Desktop Workshop put out three out of the four newsletters (a fantastic effort); Cathy Jin and Steve Shamoes did great work around the office.
Dr Rosemary Aldrich and John Wlodarczyk of the Newcastle Environmental Toxicology Research Unit (NETRU) are welcome additions to the Technical Advisory Board, along with Jack Haley, Manager Engineering and Environment, NRMA (who replaces Peter Caldwell). We are sad to have lost the consultancy services of Dr Louis du Plessis who was our expert on landfill and incineration issues and made many valuable contributions to the Working Groups of the NSW Lead Taskforce, as did so many of our other consultants. Shirley Gibson, our Leadlighting adviser left the Board, as she has moved away from Sydney. Michelle Calvert has joined the Board as our adviser on Local Government.
Thank you to all our consultants for their advice throughout the year.
Our networking connections have gone international, with much contact between the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning (USA), the Environmental Defense Fund (USA) and the United Parents Against Lead (USA), at whose exhilarating inaugural meeting in May 1994 I was present.
Kerry O'Donnell has resigned as Treasurer after 3 years' excellent work; her place has been taken by Allison Jacobs. Kerry will continue as Deputy Treasurer, a valued member of The LEAD Group.
Michelle Calvert has joined the Committee. Michelle is a Councillor on Ashfield Council, and is advising Ashfield and other councils about lead from her personal experience of the problem.
Joanne Paterson of the Committee, kindly ran an information stall at Sydney University on their environment day. Until this week our Vice President, Fred Salome has always made his laser printer available. (At last we have a Sharp printer which belongs to The LEAD Group.)
Donations and Grants
Our auditor, Arthur Andersen, refunded our entire $5,000 audit payment, enabling us to obtain the full benefit of our 1994 grant from D.E.S.T. (federal Dept of Environment, Sport and Territories). The Grant for Voluntary Conservation Organisations (GVCO), for $10.000, was specifically for administrative costs, rather than equipment, was conditional upon having audited accounts.
Canon has continued to service the photocopier free of charge - a very valuable ongoing donation.
The original donation (of the photocopier) being in memory of Marie Bissaker, who died of kidney failure due to lead poisoning.
Lou Casmiri (a member of Drummoyne Rotary), of National Laser Printers, arranged for us to receive a magnificent cost-price laser printer from Sharp. The plain paper fax machine donated by Xerox continues to give excellent service.
Advisory Service: As the only adviser at the Community Lead Information Centre, I dealt with hundreds of requests for information, each one taking from 5 to 60 minutes, typically 10-15 minutes. A particularly bad case of childhood lead poisoning required 3 home visits and many hours of advice and following up. Many callers are referred to the Community Lead Information Centre by Environment Protection Agencies and Health Departments or Public Health Units.
Library: lots of people used our library in 1994, some students kindly made donations of articles.
In November and December 1994, when the NSW Parliamentary Select Committee was holding its hearings, lead issues received extensive media coverage. The release of the NSW Lead Task Force report around this time also kept us very busy with the media.
ABC TV's respected and popular series, "GP", featured an episode on a child suffering from lead poisoning due to paint ingestion. Members of The LEAD Group's Technical Advisory Board, and I, were extensively consulted by the scriptwriter.
Four newsletters were issued for last year. A new information sheet "About the LEAD Group" was compiled, and is automatically issued to anyone making an inquiry. Our regular information sheets were updated. The LEAD Group assisted in the preparation of Total Environment Centre's Fact Sheet on Lead.
The Commonwealth EPA heavily consulted our Technical Advisory Board during the preparation of its Lead Alert series of booklets and brochures.
I received a Travel Fellowship to attend the "Global Dimensions of Lead Poisoning" conference in Washington DC, and the "Building a Lead-Safe Future" conference, also in Washington DC. The highlight of the trip was doing community advocacy work alongside international environmentalists at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in New York.
When speaking at the International Lead Abatement and Remediation Conference at Newcastle, in June 1994 in Australia, I managed to impress upon the Parliamentary Secretary for the NSW Minister for Health, the need for regulations to protect home renovators from lead contamination of their homes. The Parliamentary Secretary has been investigating the possibilities.
Measuring our Achievements against LEAD Group Objectives:
Funding was available this year for the first time, from the Federal Government.
The NSW Environment Minister Chris Hartcher has promised that a Lead Centre will be set up in Sydney by early 1995. It is not clear whether the Lead Centre will be open before July, 1995.
The NSW Lead Task Force has presented its report and has been dissolved. This means that future action in NSW is contingent on the setting up of the Lead Centre referred to above.
Lead in petrol fell nationally, by around 50%; NSW has gone to 0.2 grams per litre as of January 1995, the LEAD Group had proposed 0.15 by June 1993; only Shell took up the challenge, reducing its level to 0.15 by mid-1994, and 0.1 by January 1995.
Three monthly average air lead levels around major roadways, as far as we know, have fallen below 1 1g/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) before our target date of 1995. Sydney reported a drop in air lead of 60% between November 1993 and November 1994. However smelter communities still suffer air lead levels in excess of the outdated goal of 1.5 1g/m3 and the review of the goal looks as far away as ever.
The Commonwealth EPA has sent lead educational materials to every GP in early 1994 and put out a package of brochures and pamphlets with the assistance of members of The LEAD Group's Technical Advisory Board.
We look forward to further progress towards our objectives in 1995 and the elimination of child-hood lead poisoning in Australia by the year 2002.
Hopefully Seeking Sponsorship
I would be very pleased to receive sponsorship to attend a conference in Canada in July 1995, as it aims "to facilitate and encourage interaction and discussion between community, agencies and organisations, allowing the sharing of solutions for concerns common to community lead programs" and will feature speakers from the best lead poisoning prevention programs in the world.
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