QUESTION: Why are Esperance Port workers & townspeople only having their blood tested for lead? 16 Mar 2007 WA, Australia
Hi there from Esperance! I am writing to thank Elizabeth O'Brien for her comments in our local paper. It is comforting to know that we are being thought of instead of being patronised by officials etc. We have been informed by several health professionals that blood testing in adults is inadequate/inaccurate and that a more comprehensive test is obtained by hair mineral analysis. Are you aware of this and if it is true-why are Port workers and community members only having their blood tested? I am organising hair testing for my family and a growing number of friends and community members so will let you know how we go-if you are interested.
ANSWER: 16 Mar 2007
Please don't do it!!! It is true that there are two schools of thought on the best assessment method for lead in humans. But 99.9999% of research is based on blood lead levels and blood lead levels are the ONLY assay that is accepted by Health departments (and the vast majority of doctors). If you want to put yourself outside of the Medicare system, and have the Health Dept ignore your results (and scoff at them) the surest way to do it is to rely on hair lead levels. For recent lead exposure, blood lead level is absolutely the gold standard test and the most useful, interpretable test (due to all the research using blood leads).
Another resident has called on the Health dept to organise blood lead testing at the Hospital so that people don't have to wait for a doctor's appointment. This will markedly speed up the process of getting answers to the question - how many people in Esperance have a blood lead level exceeding the new safe limit of 2 micrograms/decilitre (µg/dL ) in blood (although I feel certain that the WA Dept of Health will only want to report on the number exceeding the World Health Organisation goal of 10 µg/dL (Australia has no standard). I'll email you our Info Pack 56 so you can read up on the latest research while waiting for your blood lead results.
All the best
From: The LEAD Group
Sent: Friday, March 16, 2007 4:59 PM
Subject: Info Pack 56 - Dangers of a blood lead level above 2 µg/dL
Please find attached some recent research indicating the dangers of a blood lead level above 2 micrograms per decilitre (2 µg/dL ), firstly in adults (so you might want to ask your doctor to test your blood lead level to see which tertile you are in for blood lead) and then some references re: children:
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