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Media Release     17 March 1995

Lead Centre maybe...

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The LEAD Group is cautiously applauding a vague announcement this week that the Lead Reference Centre promised for Sydney by early 1995, by Environment Minister Chris Hartcher (in November 1994), may be located at an inner western Sydney hospital.

"Frankly, an announcement that the long-awaited Lead Centre was opening would have been more exciting, but promises from both John Murray (Labor member for Drummoyne) and the Environment Minister at least serve to make the Lead Centre opening a certainty, sometime" said Elizabeth O'Brien of The LEAD Group.

"The community has been crying out for a complete strategy to prevent childhood lead poisoning in lead contaminated Sydney, since 1992, when the Medical Journal of Australia published results of a blood lead survey showing that 50% of 1-4 year old children surveyed in Balmain and Summer Hill were lead poisoned," said Ms O'Brien, the National Coordinator of The LEAD Group and herself the mother of a lead poisoned child.

The Joint Parliamentary Select Committee upon Lead Pollution recommended in December 1995, that a Lead Management Plan be developed for inner Sydney including the establishment of an Environmental Lead Centre (which would carry out additional functions to the limited educational functions proposed for the Lead Reference Centre.)

The additional functions of the Environmental Lead Centre would include: "targeted blood lead screening and environmental lead surveillance in order to target appropriate remediation strategies, eg lead paint abatement in public housing, child care centres and lower socio-economic housing. The Environmental Lead Centre could be incorporated into the Government's proposed Lead Reference Centre in Sydney."

"While the Government's Lead Management Plan has attempted to locate children with high blood lead levels in point-source (eg lead smelter/mining communities), spending as much as $3 million in Broken Hill for a population of 1600 children, no such effort has been suggested by the government for Sydney with an estimated 39,000 lead poisoned children. Sandra Nori (member for Port Jackson) has however made repeated calls for blood lead testing and environmental testing of preschools", O'Brien stated.

Contact: Elizabeth O'Brien after 9pm Friday, on 02 9716 0014. ###

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