LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News vol 4 no 1  Summer 1996    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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The LEADLINE Project:
In Partnership with a New Industry

by Elizabeth O'Brien and Adrian Hill, The LEAD Group, February 1996

The LEAD Group now has a major focus on development of the lead abatement and lead assessment industries. Supporting the fledgling lead management industry means a tremendous potential for jobs and export dollars for Australia.

The credibility of The LEAD Group within the community means that LEADLINE attracts a constant stream of consumers (so far over 2,000 potential customers) for lead abatement and lead assessment services or potential trainees in these fields. We are also active in helping develop the necessary product suppliers of lead abatement and lead assessment services.

The Economic Benefits of Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention

LEADLINE’s lead information and referral service on lead management also impacts on the economy because it reduces the lead poisoning of children. The subsequent reduction in IQ loss, long-term health costs and behavioural problems saves the government money on remedial education and medical treatment, while also increasing the later earning potential of the individual children involved.

Customers for a New Industry

The total number of inquiries in the eight months from June 1995 to January 1996 was 2,444 making an average of 305 inquiries per month. These figures represent 600% of the projected target of 50 inquiries per month and 1255% of the pre-grant inquiry rate of 22.5 calls per month to The LEAD Group's volunteers. Although costs were estimated on the basis of 50 inquiries per month, with careful management, LEADLINE has stayed within budget constraints.

In response to the 2,444 inquiries from potential consumers of lead management services and products, LEADLINE made 2,420 referrals in the following industrial sectors during the eight months since the start of the LEADLINE Project:

  1. 444 referrals (18% of the total of 2,420 referrals) for lead abatement (mostly lead paint removal or leaded ceiling dust removal),

  2. 1,012 referrals (42%) for lead assessment. Categories of experts referred to in lead assessment included:

  1. home assessment by spot test kit or by laboratory analysis - 273 (27% of assessment referrals);

  2. tooth and bone lead assessment - 30 (3% of assessment referrals);

  3. blood lead assessment - 696 (69% of assessment referrals);

  4. water lead assessment - 13 (1% of assessment referrals); and

iii) 964 referrals (40%) for other categories, including:

  1. companies hiring or selling HEPA filter vacuum cleaners, respirators or air filters -243 referrals (10% of total number of referrals);

  2. to organisations providing training in lead management - 47 (2% of total);

  3. for disposal or recycling of leaded wastes -31 (1%).

The Expanding Lead Management Industry

The total number of experts that LEADLINE refers inquirers to, within the lead management industry sectors increased in the 3 months covered by this report, as follows:

  1. home lead assessment by laboratory analysis - up to October 1995 we referred callers to 19 experts in this category. By January 1996, it was 26 - we had added a further 7 experts to the LEADLINE referral data base;

  2. lead abatement - increased in this quarter from 18 to 25 experts;

  3. HEPA filter supply companies/hire companies increased from 7 to 9 with the encouragement of LEADLINE.

LEADLINE - Providing a Nation-wide Service

The LEADLINE Project services the community that is at risk of exposure to lead, no matter what part of Australia they are from. LEADLINE continues to receive calls from every state and territory in Australia, but naturally we get more calls from lead hotspots like Sydney. A soon-to-be-published blood lead survey from Sydney (Ref: Dr Michael Mira et al, Medical Journal of Australia, April 1996) which targeted children 9 months to 5 years found that 25% of the children within a 10km radius of the CBD were lead poisoned. The typical prevalence rate for the whole of Australia is apparently 7% of 1-4 year olds, though the national blood lead survey from which this figure comes is also yet-to-be-published.

LEADLINE - Responding to Changing Information Needs

In 8 months of operation, over 24,000 articles about lead have been sent out to a range of inquirers including parents, childcare providers, doctors, renovators, workers, companies and agencies of all three spheres of government.

In this period, in response to new topics being raised by callers we created packages of articles in the following new topic areas: petrol sniffing; asbestos; leaded waste disposal and demolition codes of practice; training in lead management, and information for community nurses and other paramedics. The LEADLINE Project managed to target 30 potential course attendants for a brand new training course in the field of lead management.

The content of the (now) thirty topic areas of written information which the LEADLINE Project sends out, is constantly being updated and improved, using additional publications from The LEAD Group, the media, various companies and government agencies. In the three months of the LEADLINE Project from November 1995 to January 1996) a total of 27 new articles were added to or replaced some of the 110 already being regularly sent out, together with another 560 articles we sent out to cater to a one-off specific inquiry.

LEADLINE - Raising Lead Awareness

Most first-time inquirers to LEADLINE are asked how they heard about LEADLINE. 330 inquirers responded that they were referred to LEADLINE by word of mouth. Of these, 50 (15%) were referred by the commonwealth EPA. Increasing numbers of government agencies refer their inquirers to LEADLINE. In all there are now 7 federal agencies, 13 state agencies, 3 local government agencies and 10 non-government agencies as well as individuals such as doctors and childcare providers referring lead inquiries to LEADLINE.

Also, a total of 1,106 inquirers responded that they had heard about LEADLINE through the media or other print materials. Of these, 35 callers (3% of inquirers) had heard of LEADLINE through the commonwealth EPA's one million copies of Lead Alert publications, whereas the remaining 97% heard about it through the 43 media articles, and the 9 types of other print materials generated by The LEAD Group. While the commonwealth EPA spent $108,000 on lead publicity between November 1995 and March 1996, publicity generated by LEADLINE cost nothing and produced far more inquiries for LEADLINE. The cost-effectiveness of the community-run LEADLINE Project is evidenced by the fact that the entire LEADLINE Project cost a mere $150,000 for a full twelve months operation.

Case Studies:

Statistics about the LEADLINE Project are invaluable in providing an analysis of the function of LEADLINE.

However, on its own data cannot present the human face of the lead problem.

The following case studies give some idea of that human face, and also of the dynamic solutions and change that can happen when a community organisation with a distinctive focus is facilitated to provide an opportunity for dialogue with concerned people.

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Last Updated 22 November 2012
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