Action News Vol 3 no 3 Winter 1995
The Human Cost of Leaded Petrol
Toxic lead deaths overtake road toll
The following article, written by science and technology, writer Julian Cribb, appeared in p3 of The Australian on Wednesday, September 8th, 1993
More Australians may be dying from heart attacks linked to toxic lead in the bloodstream than are being killed in motor vehicle accidents on the nation's roads, a new medical study has indicated.
The lives of up to 2,655 heart-attack victims could possibly be saved each year if lead levels in the blood of adult Australians were halved by eliminating lead from petrol, the investigation by Dr John Wlodarczyk of the Newcastle Environmental Toxicology Research Unit found.
The link between adult cardiac deaths and high blood pressure was outlined in a report to the National Health & Medical Research Council.
It is expected to add to public concern over the effect of lead on children's mental development.
There is "reasonably consistent evidence" of an association between blood pressure levels and blood lead levels in adults, the study says.
If the elimination or reduction of lead from petrol could lead to a halving of blood lead levels it would reduce average blood pressure levels by 1 to 2 points.
This meant about 12,000 fewer people would need treatment for hypertension annually, there would be between 6,000 and 12,000 fewer heart attacks (fatal and non-fatal) and up to 2,655 lives a year would be saved among people aged from 35 to 64 years.
The number of lives saved compares with the road accident toll of 2,221 deaths for the calendar year 1991 and represents about one cardiac death in every 10.
"The study has only considered effects in 35 to 64-year-olds. The estimated effect would increase dramatically if older age groups were included in the analysis," the report says.
The Minister for the Environment, Mrs Kelly, said yesterday the study emphasised the fact lead was a poison that had to be removed from Australia's atmosphere.
"Till now the whole emphasis has been on impact of lead on children's development - but this study shows it has a far wider effect," she said. "It's going into people's lungs and into their bloodstream."
The federal Coalition went on the attack over the lead issue yesterday; claiming the latest NHMRC studies had highlighted the lack of a government strategy to eliminate lead pollution.
The Coalition's spokeswoman on the environment, Ms Chris Gallus, said the NHMRC was correct to highlight how preventable the problem was.
"While other countries were telling their oil companies to get the lead out of petrol, the Australian Government sat complacently by."
The following article appeared
in the Daily Telegraph Mirror
Two teenagers were seriously burned when petrol they were sniffing ignited and set them on fire, police said yesterday.
The boys, 13 and 14, were in intensive care at Alice Springs Hospital with third degree bums.
The two were found burning near Yuendumu on Sunday night after an explosion.
Locals doused them with water and sand. "They had been sniffing a mixture of Avgas and petrol from a Jerry can inside a disused water tank", police said.
"The petrol ignited and exploded."
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Updated 16 November 2012