LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News vol 4 no 3 Winter 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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If Petrol Sniffing was a White Problem Leaded Petrol would be Banned

by Elizabeth O'Brien, Project Coordinator, NSW Community Lead Advisory Service

The Alice Springs Coroner's Court has heard evidence that official statistics underestimate the number of petrol sniffing deaths in the Northern Territory. ABC Radio News reporter Michael Ockerby reported that the court is examining the death of a 14 year old petrol sniffer who "bled to death" in October 1994 after punching a window while under the influence of petrol. Dr Bart Currie, a specialist at Royal Darwin Hospital said that the autopsy report, though factual, ignored the child's petrol sniffing as a contributory cause.

A Sydney specialist reported to The LEAD Group that one Aboriginal child who died of petrol sniffing had a blood lead level of 350 g/dL (35 times higher than the National Goal of 10 g/dL).

According to a report by Lisa Allison in The Centralian Advocate from Alice Springs (16-8-96), "the chairman of the Docker River community west of Yulara said he estimated over the last four years, he knew of 20 petrol sniffers who had died in Central Australia.

"[Dr Bart Currie] told of the Maningrida Community in the north, which managed to control its petrol sniffing by switching from [leaded] petrol to avgas for all its fuel needs in 1992."

Alicia Larriera reported in the SMH (28-11-95) that "Before the Maningrida bowsers were switched to unleaded, AirMed would evacuate to Royal Darwin Hospital at least 15 people a year, knocked out cold by lead-induced brain seizures.

A Perth study concluded that a high blood lead level on arrival at hospital of a petrol sniffer, was significantly associated with death. [Goodheart & Dunne, MJA 1994, see Petrol Sniffing: It's the Lead that Kills in a previous LEAD Action News].

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Last Updated 26 November 2012
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