LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News Volume 7 No 4, 2000, 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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Review of NSW Parliamentary Select Committee

REFERENCE 5: "Recommendations for Strategies, Priorities and Guidelines" in Report of the Select Committee upon Lead Pollution" December 1994. Published by the *Select Committee upon Lead Pollution, NSW Parliament, Sydney, December 1994.

*The Select Committee upon Lead Pollution was comprised of 7 Members of Parliament. The non-bolded boxed text below comprises the Terms of Reference of the Select Committee and the bolded and numbered text is the Recommendations made by the Select Committee for each of their Terms of Reference.

(b) the impact of lead pollution on the health of people in the community, especially infants and school children, in particular the emissions from:

(v) other lead based industries in New South Wales including lead-acid battery manufacture:

46. that a register be compiled of all sites where lead-based industries are currently operating or have operated in the past. Comment – the NPI website mentioned above is probably the most accessible list of lead-emitting facilities but as mentioned above, it in no way comprises a full list. The NSW EPA Contaminated Sites section deals with over 3,000 contaminated sites in NSW but generally only gives scant information out to the public and usually only when you are a neighbour or potential neighbour of an industrial site. A register could readily be compiled from their information and published in the State of the Environment Report. Individuals may be able to locate historical information on their local area from Historical Societies contactable through the local council. Current lists of lead-based industries operating can be deduced to some extent from the Yellow Pages in each area or from the web www.yellowpages.com.au (Yellow Pages On-Line).

47. That lead usage be strictly monitored and registered: lead smelters/producers to compulsorily register precise amounts sold to processor/end-user, who in turn must log the precise amounts used in their product and the precise amounts "lost"/wasted during subsequent processing. Comment – what a great idea! This is the concept behind the Community Right to Know legislation in the US – that if you do a mass balance of incoming and outgoing lead, then you know how much you are losing/wasting (up the stack, into the air, off the wharf or open truck, in wastewater etc). Then you can eliminate losses and make more profits. I don’t know of anywhere in NSW where lead usage has been strictly registered.

(b) the impact of lead pollution on the health of people in the community, especially infants and school children, in particular the emissions from:

(vi) motor vehicles with particular emphasis on inner city areas and known locations of traffic congestion.

53. that the NSW Government and NSW petrol refiners negotiate with the Federal government to reduce federal tax on leaded petrol to compensate for expected increased costs to refineries as lead is removed from leaded petrol. (Currently there is a two-cent price differential between leaded petrol and unleaded petrol). Comment – this did not come to pass: it is in line with the best environmental policies overseas that taxes on petrol are never reduced. Reducing the price of petrol encourages its use and is a disincentive to reduce car use.

54. That the government investigate the use of ethanol and other additives to replace lead as an octane enhancer. Comment – the federal government to get the ethanol industry running funded a small program with a 3-year term. Caltex has a 50 % share in the company that supplies ethanol in petrol from over 120 service stations in the Newcastle area.

(c) To recommend:

(vi) Any other action deemed necessary to address the lead problem

82. That the NSW government undertake a program to rationalise the many and varied regulations covering lead use in products. That the program focus on regulations that are now out-of-date because of the revision of the NH& MRC lead in blood guidelines. Comment – this hasn’t happened.

Lead in Paint

83. That there be an extensive education campaign to distribute lead poisoning prevention leaflets with the sale to the public of paint and the sale and hire of paint removal and dust abatement equipment. Comment – Environment Australia was more successful than the NSW government in organising for this to happen – there is endless room for improvement.

84. That a warning label about all risks of lead poisoning and lead contamination be placed on all paint cans. Comment – this hasn’t happened.

Lead in Fertilisers

92. that the NSW Government seek Federal cooperation to examine the prohibition of the sale of fertilisers containing more than 0.05% lead or lead compounds. Comment – I do not know whether such a prohibition is in place or has been examined. A recent publication by NSW WorkCover states simply that "In agricultural areas lead may be introduced into the soil from contaminated fertilisers. (Ref: p 53 "Occupational Medicine Handbook" 7th edition, revised April 2000). An officer of NSW Agriculture reported to the Lead Advisory Service in December 1998 that something like 99.9% of cadmium in Australian fertilisers comes from the rock phosphate [would this also supply some lead?] and that fertiliser made from US smelter waste has been banned in Western Australia. Presumably the sulphuric acid from Australia's lead smelters still passes to the fertiliser plants that are alongside the smelters.

Other Lead Exposures

94. (a) that the NSW Government consider the prohibition of the sale and use of lead in children’s toys, paints and crayons and other products in which lead can readily be replaced. Comment – if they considered it, they decided against it. I don’t even know whether the Toy Standard has been taken up into any regulation.

(b) that the dangers of lead shot, lead fishing weights, lead crystal ware and ceramic ware, hobbies involving lead and other products in which lead can be readily replaced be subjected to public awareness campaigns and alternatives promoted. Comment – not done convincingly. The NSW Environment Minister handed over responsibility to NSW National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) for lead shot control in 1995 when a ban was placed on the duck season. Unfortunately, it is possible that more ducks are now shot during licensed pest culling over NSW ricefields (see comments above for food recommendation of NHMRC strategy). Now NSW NPWS is reviewing the ban but the impact of lead shot on the environment is not part of the terms of reference, nor is it the responsibility of NPWS, as the deposition of tonnes of lead shot per year now occurs over farmland, not National Parks. The ANZECC proposal to phase out lead shot only relates to wetlands so the question becomes, is the lead shot on ricefields best dealt with as a waste issue or contaminated land? And is EPA, NSW Agriculture or Conservation and Land Management responsible? Which of these agencies is going to promote alternatives to lead shot in NSW? See comments on fishing weights above (in NHMRC strategy) and below (in OECD Declaration).

96. That the Select Committee supports the implementation of the … recommendations of the New South Wales Lead Management Action Plan 1994. Comment – see above comments in "Review of NSW Lead Management Action Plan.

97. That the Select Committee supports the implementation of the Recommendations of the nine Interdepartmental Working Groups Reports [ie any omitted or altered during the synthesis into the New South Wales Lead Management Action Plan 1994 – as listed below, from Appendix 4 of the Report of the Select Committee]:

Omitted Lead in Air Working Group recommendations:

102. determination of the amount of lead emitted from various Australian timbers during wood burning. Comment – not done publicly.

107. an education strategy "should include provisions to ensure that local councils, developers and residents are aware of the potential risks involved and are provided with appropriate advice to enable informed decision making". Comment – some councils have on their counters the Lead Safe booklets and/or factsheets and some councils sent council officers to training sessions held by the Lead Reference Centre. Judging by calls to the Lead Advisory Service about developers, most of them do not take lead into account at all and some council officers are of no assistance to residents who complain about lead hazards.

Omitted Lead in Children's Blood Working Group Report recommendations:

119. proposals which will reduce children's blood lead levels [not just measure children's blood lead and evaluate interventions]. For example, the first "public health intervention most likely to have the greatest impact on blood lead levels in NSW: [is] the removal of lead from petrol". Comment – there is no proposed date for the removal of lead from petrol in NSW, apart from 1996 – see below.

Omitted Lead Education Working Group Report recommendations:

129. "That Local Government includes in all Building Applications, information on lead paint and plumbing issues. This issue should be developed by the Institute of Environmental Health with input from the proposed Lead Reference Centre, Councils, Community, Industry and the EPA." Comment – there may be something in the Development Consent Plan for Lead (DCP) on this. The Lead Reference Centre (LRC) drafted the DCP for Councils but its publication is a year overdue and the LRC closed on 30th December 1999. As at April 2000 the DCP was being finalised by the Manager, Community Education within the NSW EPA.

Omitted Lead in Food Working Group Report recommendations:

130. encouragement of food producing industries to take part in the forthcoming National Residue Survey. Comment – according to the Australian New Zealand Food Authority website www.anzfa.gov.au "the National Residue Survey monitors residues in agricultural produce at the farm gate. The Australian Market Basket Survey estimates the intake of selected agricultural and veterinary chemical residues in the total diet by measuring residue levels in food as consumed." Unfortunately the results of the National Residue Survey do not appear to be on the website so it is not clear how many food producing industries volunteered to take part. There are over 24 Commonwealth government acts including "National Residue Survey" in their titles and one of them, the NATIONAL RESIDUE SURVEY ADMINISTRATION ACT 1992 - SECT 11, includes the following:

"Release of information

11. (1) Subject to subsection (2), information collected under a survey conducted using funds paid or reimbursed out of the National Residue Survey Account that identifies a particular person may not be released. Account that identifies a particular person may not be released.

(2) Such information may be released to authorities of the Commonwealth, of a State or of a Territory that are responsible for the monitoring or regulation of pesticide or other residues in food related products for the purpose of such monitoring or regulation."

So to find out about lead in food, you have to ask your relevant authority!!

132. routine testing of imported and Australian fertilisers, sewage fertilisers and sewage composts, for lead. Comment – Presumably NSW Agriculture would be responsible for this - a search of the website www.agric.nsw.gov.au/ failed to reveal any test results.

133. customer-pays testing of garden soil lead levels and food lead levels to be provided by NSW Agriculture at a cost of $25 per sample. Comment – cost was $85 at last inquiry for food samples and $33 for soil samples.

Omitted Lead in Paint Working Group Report recommendations:

134. the Lead Reference Centre should be required to keep: -

i) a register of consultants and labs who can identify, sample and test paint suspected of containing lead;

ii) a list of suppliers of do-it-yourself lead test kits. Comment on i) and ii) – the LRC and later the NSW EPA funds the Lead Advisory Service (LAS) and LAS keeps these lists, among many others.

Omitted Lead in Soil and Dust Working Group Report recommendations:

138. study the costs and benefits of recycling lead paint waste. Comment – this may have occurred as, after a delay of several years, ARA (Australian Refined Alloys) in Sydney was granted a licence by the NSW EPA to receive lead paint waste (dry flakes or dust) for the purpose of recycling the lead.

Omitted Lead in Petrol Working Group Report recommendations:

139. that a stepwise reduction to zero lead in petrol by the end of 1996 be legislated as soon as possible. Comment – not done.

140. reduce lead in petrol to an average of 0.15 and a maximum of 0.2 g/L by the end of 1994. Comment – not done.

141. reduce lead in petrol to 0.05 g/L by the end of 1995. Comment – not done.

142. explore associated matters to determine the achievability of the above lead in petrol levels. Comment – not done.

143. initiatives that aim to increase the modal share of public transport and reduce transport emissions (eg pricing mechanisms that reflect the advantages of public transport over private cars). Comment – done to some extent.

144. raise community awareness about use of unleaded petrol (ULP). eg stickers identifying cars capable of using ULP to be applied during re-registration check, pamphlets sent to NRMA members with Open Road, membership renewal and insurance renewal. Comment – not done.

145. "The NSW Government should make all possible efforts to have the Federal Government fund, in whole or part, required education and abatement programs in NSW from the increase in the Federal leaded petrol excise on the basis of litres sold." Comment – not achieved.

146. Use economic instruments (such as tradeable rights) to reduce the amount of lead from petrol. "These economic instruments should target refiners, distributors and consumers." Comment – not done?

147. review the total tonnage of lead used in petrol and set targets for the continued reduction of total lead used in petrol. These recommendations were to take place at the Lead Roundtable Review. Comment – according to the minutes of the Lead Roundtable Review, this did not occur. Senator Hill set a final phase out date of 1/1/2002 in March of 2000.

148. that the NSW Government assist the Federal Government in "testing and implementing alternative octane enhancers and fuel additives to protect valves of leaded vehicles." Comment – Environment Australia commissioned reports and Western Australia acted on the results by banning leaded petrol, but NSW has not implemented alternatives.

149. Data for NSW sales of leaded and unleaded fuel, figures of total tonnage of lead added to petrol, and ambient air data should be assessed by the relevant authorities on a quarterly basis to ascertain the short-term impact of the lead in petrol reduction strategy." Comment – done.

IMPORTANT REQUEST TO READERS – I have written italicised comments after each component in the following government plans regarding consumer products – but I would love to hear from you if my comment is wrong or incomplete and will be happy to print a retraction with the good news about what has actually happened, in a later issue of LEAD Action News.

Review of NSW Lead Issues Paper 
Review of NHMRC Strategy
Review of Ros Kelly’s Lead Roundtable
Review of NSW Lead Management Action Plan 
Review of NSW Parliamentary Select Committee 
Review of OECD Declaration

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