LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News vol 4 no 2  Autumn  1996  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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New Services and Products

See: Lead-Free and Hazard Reduction Products & Services

by Robin Mosman, The LEAD Group

LEADLINE's unique position as the nexus between community needs and government and industry services and products is well demonstrated in the range of new services it has facilitated in its last quarter of operation.

Fact sheet on "Renting and Lead"

This new service has come about because of inquiries to LEADLINE by tenants experiencing problems with lead-contaminated premises. In order to be able to provide these inquirers with appropriate information, LEADLINE contacted the Marrickville Legal Centre, who offered to produce a fact sheet.

The solicitor who researched the information said that it had been very worthwhile, as "it's the type of issue that is in no-man's-land. Lead is not a traditional health hazard. Because of that, people don't realise it is a tenancy issue and so they are easily brushed aside."

He said "It comes down to the tenants providing evidence and proof of a lead health hazard. They would have to show the presence of lead in the premises." Once that is established, he said that the Tenancy Tribunal process offered a very appropriate way of dealing with tenants' lead problems - "It's an easy, informal process, there are strong compliance powers; it's a good tool for tenants."

Testing for Lead in Water

LEADLINE receives a steady flow of inquires about possible lead in water.

See: Do It Yourself Lead Safe Test Kits

tap (faucet)To meet this concern, LEADLINE has now organised a water testing service with an analytical laboratory, where inquirers are supplied with properly cleaned sample bottles and instructions for gathering their samples, and given verbal interpretation of the results of the test.

Most inquiries come from country Australians dependent on tank water, and concerned about the possible effects on their household water supply of old leaded paint on the galvanised iron roof, or of chalking lead flashings.

An inquiry was recently received indicating the possible presence of lead in first-flush drinking water. This inquirer had her 3-year-old son lead tested on the suggestion of an American friend, in an attempt to find the cause of his long-standing food intolerance. His blood lead level was .55 µmol/L (12 µg/dL).

The paediatric analyst who did the test told her it was "within the acceptable range of up to 1.9 µmol/L (40 µg/dL)." She subsequently saw an article in the Age newspaper showing much lower "acceptable levels". She contacted the Royal Children's' Hospital, who put her on to the EPA, and they gave her LEADLINE's number.

The child's blood lead level seemed too high to LEADLINE to have been caused by the small amount of sanding and stripping done in the house a fair while ago. There seemed to be no other lead source - the house was located in a quiet residential area well outside Adelaide.

After a long advisory session it was finally discovered that a special milk formula is still a big part of the child's diet because of his intolerance to so many other foods, and that until 6 months ago the mother was making his morning bottle with first-flush tap water. Then one day she tasted it herself, and it was so metallic she couldn't drink it. Since then she has run the tap for some time first before making up the bottle.

This inquirer's first-flush water is currently being tested.

More Smelters Accepting Leaded Waste

On hearing recently through network contacts that the Pasminco smelter at Sulphide, Boolaroo, is now going to accept leaded paint and dust waste, LEADLINE contacted Pasminco's Public Relations Officer to ask whether Broken Hill A smelter and EZ Metals in Hobart would also be prepared to accept such waste as part of industry's responsibility in the cradle-to-grave management of lead.

This proposition was accepted by the smelter management at a recent meeting, and LEADLINE now has their referral details in its books.

Replacement for Lead Product

A new product with the potential for big export earnings for Australia is currently being developed in Australia, to replace a product which causes considerable environmental lead contamination. Unfortunately, patent constraints prevent LEADLINE from being able to reveal more about the exciting development at this stage. However, the firm developing the product, who did considerable research through LEADLINE, have asked to be quoted in this last LEADLINE report as follows:

"LEADLINE's support was invaluable to us. Their information has been wonderful. It really set us on the way. It gave us the necessary information with which to go to other people we needed to contact. It backed up our theories."

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