7 no 1, 1999
Open-Cut Mining in the Heart of Broken Hill
TO: Prof Brian L Gulson
Member of The LEAD Group's Technical Advisory Board
I am writing with my concerns for the children of Broken Hill. I have been talking to parents of children who have developed tumors in their hip sockets and their knees. Children who have developed cysts on their ovaries, having to have their tubes removed. This really concerns me as a parent. The mother of the child who had the tumor in her hip, is only told that it is very rare, you dont hear of tumors in a child so young "developing cancer". Then some weeks later a phone call to let the parent know that they had another child from Broken Hill with the same tumor. There are growing numbers of females developing breast cancer and young males with lumps in their breast. We have a growing number of young children with mental illness attempting suicide, and young children with cognitive dysfunction. These children cant learn, and are branded as bad behavioural children or their families are blamed or theyre given the label Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
I have read an article on heavy metals in our systems, stating that heavy metals are stored in our bone marrow. Which is why they can be a problem, put simply they reduce our bodys ability to create fresh red blood cells from the bone marrow, since heavy metals are taking up the room. Is this why the children of Broken Hill are getting so ill? I am appalled at the whole cover up by Far West Health Service and the Education Department following the start of open-cut mining in the heart of the city of Broken Hill. The dust spilling out over the city, the health of the community I think is a major concern. We have young children developing tumors on their lungs, having to have a lung removed. I cannot understand how they can cart this toxic material CERRUSSITE through the streets uncovered, from 1991 and are still removing it from the south mine when they know how toxic this material is.
Workers are sick:- some of the men had lead readings of 80 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL) and had to be treated, one young lad was falling over all the time passing out, he has now been given 2 years to live:- tumor in his liver. I cannot understand how they can stockpile this toxic material on the outskirts of town, which is now killing cattle and has contaminated a station owners land and water supply. This station owner has been told he cannot sell his remaining cattle, and the whole thing has been swept under the carpet. The land where the Cerrussite is stock piled is a tourist spot. If you pay $25 you can fossick and take home as much toxic material as you can carry. Young children and adults are encouraged to do so. I asked "what if a child gets sick from this material?"
The children of Broken Hill will be left with no future. These children have blood noses for no reason, skin rashes, head aches, nausea, depression, bowel and bladder loss (children as old as 13 years), reflux, fainting spells and the list goes on. I have contacted the Broken Hill Environmental Lead Centre with no answers. They apparently are only funded to be concerned with under 5 year olds. There are quite a lot of children over the age of 5 who have abnormal lead readings but because theyre over five, the Lead Centre staff can't help them. They say the lead readings are going down, but they are not documenting the older children where there is a problem. I have spoken to Port Pirie Environmental Lead Centre, and their children dont have the same health problems as our children are having. I was told to look at the Cadmium, Arsenic and other heavy metals that are in our childrens systems.
I am concerned with the health problems our children are suffering today, and what will become of them in the future. I would appreciate any information regarding heavy metals or your input into this troubling matter.
Jenny Rowbotham, Broken Hill NSW, 8 March 1999
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