"GREEN LEAD" OXYMORON OR FUTURE VISION?
Cornelia Dostb, Bei Quc a Manager, b,c Interns,
Global Lead Advice & Support Service (GLASS)
We as a charity organisation cannot sit by and wait until the goals of sustainable development are achieved. Therefore, a credible information service is needed to respond to continuing community concerns about the prevalence of lead hazards in homes, public buildings and workplaces. Governments and industry need to invest in providing a credible information service. GLASS has and must continue to fill this gap.
Without GLASS, people might call several government departments or nongovernmental groups when seeking information, wasting time as they are passed from person to person, often emerging unsatisfied. No one but GLASS is equipped for handling complex inquiries about lead. GLASS is an international referral service, and a cost-efficient way of providing credible environmental health services that people trust. GLASS is the community information service on lead managed by The LEAD Group, a community organisation incorporated in 1992 with the aim of eliminating childhood lead poisoning and protecting the environment from lead.
As of May 2005, the LEAD Groups information service has been operating with government funding for exactly ten years. We have received over one million dollars in government support for GLASS and its predecessors. A similar level of funding is required until green lead becomes a reality.
Over the last 10 years, GLASS has directly handled over 41,300 calls about lead hazards. We have developed the systems, technology and staff to provide an efficient and credible service that assists the public and professionals alike with information, advice and referrals. GLASS is based in a two-room office in Summer Hill, Sydney, NSW, and operates with a national free call phone number.
GLASS handles approximately 300-500 inquiries a month from people worldwide seeking advice, information and referrals, including post, fax and email inquiries from over 64 countries.
If GLASS receives an inquiry which we have limited knowledge of, we seek the advice of The LEAD Groups Technical Advisory Board, Global Lead Network, Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Plumbism & Autism Network (PAN), Lodged Lead Shot & Bullet Support Group (LLSBS) & Lead Workers e-groups etc, and our aim is to answer every lead question put to us.
Nearly 8,000 lead references are stored in our indexed Microsoft SQL database, the largest publicly accessible resource on lead in the world, and over 1,500 of these are in a searchable web-published database on our website.
Over 4,500 experts, products, service providers, community groups and responsible parties are recorded on our searchable database, soon to be web-published if funding allows.
Fact sheets, newsletters, articles and lists are continually developed and updated to meet specific demands (e.g. nursing mothers, tenants, on ceiling dust, health effects of lead, countries still using leaded gasoline etc) A proposed online Lead Forum and e-newsletter could also be easily developed if funding were provided.
Our call database records the nature of all contacts allowing easy tracking & performance
Information packs are assembled and sent to inquirers without charge, including to enquirers overseas. Bulk copies are provided to relevant events, conferences or other distribution points. GLASS has distributed 904,503 lead information products by fax, mail or email between June 1995 and June 2005.
has provided over 250,000 web-users with news and information on global lead poisoning prevention and provides GLASS with increasing numbers of email clients, providing 41% of the 1,200 new enquirers (clients) in the last 12 months. Enquiries from outside Australia made up 21% of our calls in FY 2004-5.
Since June 2005 GLASS has asked the following lead companies and industry organisations for funding:
For the listed organizations and companies no positive answer has been received as at 23 September 2005.
The LEAD Group also applied for funding from the ministers of health and environment of Australia and NSW. Unfortunately, the Ministers do not see themselves responsible for funding the service. But the Hon. Senator Ian Campbell pointed out his hope that the lead mining industry and major manufactures of lead products in Australia will look favorably upon this presentation and take the opportunity to support the organisation. Thus the organisation hopes that Australias mining companies consider the Ministers advice and decide on sponsorship of GLASS.
Feedback from our service users
To demonstrate that GLASS has been successful over the years since its inception here are some statements from clients of the service:
105 years ago when the Australian constitution was written the concept of "the environment" was somehow left out. Perhaps they thought the planet was flat and all the waste and pollution would just fall off the edges. And the federal government consequently has no powers to create environmental regulations. So today we have the ridiculous situation whereby the federal government cannot say to a producer you must phase lead out of your products by a certain date. Instead they have to invite all the state governments and industry and environment groups to talk about what would be possible and they put the resulting lowest common denominator into a National Environment Protection Measure and then extend the deadline by a few years when one company whinges. So this is the process we can all look forward to for the Product Stewardship NEPM. For instance, now that the Vinyl Council of Australia has said it will take them til 2010 to eliminate lead stabilisers in PVC, the Product Stewardship NEPM will not bring that forward to any more reasonable time. Its up to community groups like mine to ask the obvious: if they can take lead stabilisers out of potable water PVC piping by 1998, why cant they take them out of all PVC sooner than 2010? We dont want to see the "Green Lead" campaign hide the facts about lead for another 50 years and only achieve safe management of lead acid batteries globally more than 38 years after that.
The LEAD Group suggests:
There is a lot to be done for a sustainable future and we are convinced that by funding GLASS, industry can help decision makers to get closer to that goal since we form the locus in the network of stakeholders among the government, industry and community. So far we have put a huge effort into sponsorship and fundraising applications and this has hindered us from our main work, which is namely to keep providing this essential service and strive for a truly green lead future within our lifetimes.
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Last Updated 21 August 2014