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Media Release - Monday 27th May, 1996.

Deadline for National LEADLINE Project

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The National LEADLINE Project will be closing their doors on Friday 31st May, 1996.

This project was funded for 12 months to conduct a community based advisory service to complement the commonwealth EPA’s Lead in Paint campaign. In November 1995, one million booklets were printed and distributed by the EPA with the LEADLINE 1800 number in it, but now they must feel that the problem is fixed or will simply "go away."

Some of our project staff are themselves parents of lead poisoned children. They have faced the devastation of the news that their child is lead poisoned. We advise people during that emotional time when they realise their child has been lead poisoned. We help pregnant women and their partners faced with the fact that they may have damaged their unborn child. Now that some people, from all over Australia, have had their awareness raised they will have nowhere to turn to if they need practical, informed advice on how to deal with their lead related problem.

The LEADLINE Project was funded on the basis of an expected call rate of 50 enquiries per month. The reality is vastly different. "We are presently taking over 300 calls per month from concerned parents, carers and workers from all over Australia." says Elizabeth O’Brien, the National Co-ordinator of the LEADLINE Project and of the community advocacy LEAD Group.

The latest research shows that at least 75,000 Australian children are lead poisoned, which places lead poisoning as one of, if not THE GREATEST ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH RISK FACING AUSTRALIAN CHILDREN TODAY! However, we believe that this may be an under-estimation of the true extent of the problem" said Elizabeth O’Brien.

"The studies are there for anyone to see. We know that in Sydney 25% of young children living in the inner suburbs have blood lead levels above the Australian goal. These figures could apply to any community in Australia with pre 1970 housing stock with old lead paint" said Ms O’Brien.

We are surrounded by lead in our urban environment and our children are the most at risk. A lot of money has been poured into trying to address the problems of lead in point source communities such as Broken Hill and Port Pirie, but the sad truth is that many more children are poisoned in our urban communities by the homes that they live in and the well meaning renovation actions of their parents or tradespeople. If we can continue to get the message out to the community we will prevent our children from being permanently damaged and robbed of their intellectual potential.

The Federal government realised over $152 million last year from the tax on leaded petrol. We think that $150,000 per year is not too much to ask. One thousandth of the earnings on lead is a pittance. To keep taxing the Australian people and to give NO SERVICE to the community in return is a travesty.

Contact Elizabeth O’Brien or Michelle Calvert - (02) 9716 0014 or 1800 626 086. ###

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