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The latest LEAD Action News (volume 7 number 4) produced by The LEAD Group, deals with the issues of leaded consumer products. This issue also features the first part of a systematic review of Australia’s key government policies on lead in products such as paint, petrol, food, plastics, etc.

"Most state and federal policies regarding lead in consumer products have failed to be implemented and Australia’s report on progress to the OECD furthers the misrepresentation that was perpetrated in the national blood lead survey. In 1996, Dr John Donovan of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare wrongly concluded the national blood lead survey by saying that Australia had already achieved the health department’s 1998 target for acceptable blood lead levels. In fact, the target has still not been achieved. Doctors rarely test blood lead levels and not enough patients know about their potential sources of lead to even ask their doctor about blood tests" said Elizabeth O’Brien, Editor of LEAD Action News. E.g. anyone sanding old paint should be blood lead tested.

"Whilst the Australian state and federal Governments are to be commended for achieving a world-first ban on lead in the core of the wicks of some candles, these lead core wick candles should also have been recalled to prevent potentially high dose lead poisoning cases caused by candles purchased before the September 1999 ban. Even when patients present to doctors with the symptoms of lead poisoning (symptoms are not present in moderate or low dose cases), they are often not tested or diagnosed due to the mistaken belief that ‘lead poisoning is a thing of the past’.

"The overall status of recalls of consumer products containing lead in Australia is woeful," said Elizabeth O’Brien, also the National Coordinator of The LEAD Group Inc. "Australia has only recalled four consumer products because of lead (candles are not included) whereas the United States has recalled over one hundred different leaded products," commented Ms O’Brien.

"By comparison, the leaded candle issue and an associated problem of contaminated soot damage in homes, is proving to be difficult in the US. One consumer, Cathy Flanders, has taken a retailer to court over damage these candles have caused to her home and health. She has written an article in this LEAD Action News with a large list of weblinks for further information. "Cathy Flanders has uncovered compelling evidence from 1973 that should have resulted in a regulatory ban on lead core wick candles then – but instead the powerful US National Candle Association was formed and a voluntary industry ban introduced, only to be ignored later" added Ms O’Brien.

"The Australian consumer has very little assurance that the products they have purchased are safe, therefore testing becomes a very important issue. If consumer products are not to be trusted then the lack of blood lead testing, particularly for children under 5, needs to be addressed urgently."

For more information contact: Elizabeth O’Brien on (02) 9716 0014
Patricia Parkinson or Joanne Dodd on (02) 9716 0966

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Last Updated 09 March 2012
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