LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News vol 8 no 1, 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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Victorian Tank Water Lead Results Alarming!

Lead Advisory Service Australia staff had an incredibly hard time tracking down a copy of the Victorian drinking water survey - Victorian Health Department officials were unaware that a lead in drinking water (at the kitchen tap) survey had been done in Victoria - apparently the only one done in Australia since 1993. The study possibly arose out of the second strategy in a sixth government plan (see below) or, more likely, through a policy to assess tank water quality (in general) in another department.

It is amazing that the extremely high rate of excess lead in drinking water from rainwater tanks revealed by the study - one in four rainwater tanks - was not mentioned in the book that health bureaucrats in most states regard as the best government guide on rainwater tanks in Australia - "Guidance on the Use of Rainwater Tanks" by David Cunliffe. This book is one of the National Environmental Health Forum (NEHF) Monographs and all state Directors of Environmental Health are members of the forum. The book does quote results for other contaminants from the Victorian study, whose title is " Investigation of Microbiological and Chemical Water Quality in Rainwater Tanks in Victoria, Report No. 139/97 (1997) by Bannister, R; Westwood J; McNeill, A; Water Ecoscience Pty Ltd. It is published by Victoria's Department of Natural Resources and Environment, but even Victoria's Department of Human Services glossy colour pamphlet on tank water does not mention the lead results. Is drinking water, like indoor air, one of those issues that no government agency is solely responsible for, and thus dealt with adequately by no agency? Please let the editor know if your state deals adequately with the issue of lead in drinking water.

REFERENCE 6: "Lead Strategy" (prepared By Environment Health Program, Public Health Branch, Dept Of Health and Community Services [H&CS], Victoria) Sept 1993 Publication No. 93/0093.

WATER

  • H&CS will conduct a survey of lead in drinking water at the point of use in metropolitan homes. {Appendix I timetable: TAP WATER SURVEY October 1993 - April 1994}

  • There may be a small number of rural supplies (including possibly some tank supplies to preschool centres) that are unable to comply with this level [the proposed World Health Organization level of 10 micrograms per Litre (10 g/L)], and a small survey to assist in identifying these is also planned in conjunction with the State Water Laboratory. {Appendix I timetable: RURAL/TANKWATER SURVEY May - October 1994}

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