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Media Release 1st June 2004

Elizabeth O'Brien recognised for outstanding service in lead poisoning prevention

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The United Nations Association of Australia, this week announces the recipients of their annual World Environment Day Awards. In the category for Outstanding Service to the Environment, is the dedicated Elizabeth O’Brien. She is being recognised for her pioneering effort and achievements in the area of lead poisoning prevention. Her time and work is spread over two community services - the Lead Advisory Service Australia (LASA) and the Global Lead Advice and Support Service (GLASS), both run by The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

Elizabeth’s inspiring passion for her cause stems from her very personal experience with lead poisoning. Her own children have been affected by the condition, a condition that Elizabeth now knows, did not have to occur. Thus she fights each day to prevent other parents and children succumbing to an unnecessary grief - "I am absolutely empathic with other parents, who I feel don’t need to go through all that…they need somebody to be telling them how to manage and they need legislation to protect them from the silent hazards of lead contaminated homes".

Elizabeth’s unrelenting commitment has seen her achieve changes and developments for lead poisoning prevention, at local, state, federal and international levels. And the involvement is always personal and individual. Information phone numbers that provide real people not recorded voices, personal responses to email enquiries, hand made information packs (totalling nearly half a million items since 1997), a comprehensive and easy to navigate website and an impressive database that boasts one of the largest collections of information, advice and details on lead and its effects in the world.

Such brilliant dedication is not the sole livelihood of this work – money is needed to keep services and awareness maintained. With staggering numbers of children affected by high lead levels worldwide, resulting in lowered IQ levels and other learning and physical problems and millions of workers exposed to dangerous amounts of lead everyday in their workplaces, one would assume that lead poisoning awareness and the extensive work Elizabeth undertakes would be entitled to serious funding allocations. Unfortunately this is not the case, and since 1996 with the change of ruling political parties, funding has declined to a devastatingly low amount. Fred Salome, President of the LEAD Group, urges a call to action:

"The LEAD Group is now appealing to industry and government – especially the federal government which gains so much revenue from Australia's massive lead exports - for funding to enable the Global Lead Advice and Support Service to answer all the inquiries that come in. You can't export a toxic product and then provide no support to the only Australian community group who is providing free information on its safe management to people in over 50 countries around the world."

"Indeed an outstanding candidate for such an award – the environment, every parent, tiny unsuspecting children and the rest of us who simply breathe, are right behind you." ###

Media Contact: Fred Salome,
The LEAD Group on (02) 9736 3911, mobile 0418 276 819

For Interviews: ph Elizabeth O'Brien on (02) 9716 0014.
Winners of UNAA World Environment Day awards will be announced at the Award Ceremony in Melbourne on the evening of Friday 4th June 2004. Also see on Saturday 5th June 2004.

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Last Updated 26 March 2012
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