LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News Vol 1 no 4 Summer 1993   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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Dear Elizabeth,

I came across your name in the recent edition of "Parents" magazine and wondered if you could help me with some information we are finding difficult to obtain.

Our dog recently had a fit due to lead poisoning. My husband had sanded the back wall of the outside of the house two weeks previously and although neither the dog nor my eldest son were present, both have high levels of lead.

We contacted the Health Department and they tested paint scrapings and said it had a high level of lead. The problem we have is that we can't get an answer to "What do we do now?"

What can we do about making the backyard safe again for our children? Will the soil be "contaminated"?

Any information you can give us would be greatly appreciated as we don't seem to be able to get a straight answer from anyone and we are worried for the health of our children.

Yours faithfully
Sandy Wilson
Norman Park QLD 4170 November 1, 1993.

Dear Sandy,

I'm sorry to hear that the Queensland Health Department has still not come up with a satisfactory response to your kind of situation, even though they have been aware of the problem for over 100 years.

Our series of information sheets should answer most of your needs. I would be most interested to know further details of your situation because the action that you take is quite dependent on the actual levels of lead involved, for example, how much lead is in the paint, what exactly is the blood lead level and the age of your eldest child, and have your other children been tested and what was the result?

What I don't understand is why the Health Department didn't test the soil and determine whether it is contaminated and advise you what to do about it. Are they claiming that this is the responsibility of the owner, or that the advice should come from the Department of Environment and Heritage? It is only through media coverage of such cases that change will come about.

Yours sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien.

Dear Ms. O'Brien,

Following the recent meeting at North Sydney Demonstration School, I had a brief chat with you about the use of Water-Methanol injection as a means of reducing "knocking" of old car engines using unleaded petrol.

I now recall that the water-methanol injector kits widely used in NSW in the 1950's were marketed by Frank Kleinig, then a well-known sports driver. I suggest that you seek further information from Frank Kleinig Motors, at Girraween (phone 9896- 3672). The petrol companies introduced "Super" petrol to provide higher octane when they upgraded their refining and additive blending, and in the end user-need for water-injectors ceased.

Yours sincerely,

James D. McCredie Chatswood NSW 2067 October 25, 1993.

Hi Elizabeth,

While overseas I found a very fascinating article in an English newspaper which reported the findings of a conference in Florence of 4000 chest specialists who clearly related the asthma epidemic now affecting one child in seven in England (or one family in three) to motor vehicle exhaust gases NO2 and Ozone. In one instance a school near an express road has an incidence of one child in four. The evidence is coalescing that NO2 and ozone over-ride all other causes such as genetic, dust mite, and so on. Asthma puts 100,000 people a year into hospital and once a child has it, he/she will suffer for life. The article says pretty clearly that society will have to choose between children's health and the comfort derived from the motor vehicle. Apart from technical improvements possible, the article argues that our whole way of life will need to change.

I am now researching the position in Sydney and New South Wales.

Early information in respect to children and asthma indicates that their position in Sydney may be much worse. I'll send you something on it for the next LEAD Action News.

Herbert Beauchamp
Toxic Chemicals Committee Total Environment Centre
Sydney, NSW December, 1993.

Editor's Note

Removal of carpets is recommended for asthma sufferers and lead poisoned children. Any successful lead abatement strategy which reduced lead from vehicle emissions by reducing car use and reducing fuel use would also reduce nitrogen dioxide and ozone levels. So reduced asthma rates could conceivably be another advantage of lead abatement activities.

Interestingly, there is more than one connection between lead and asthma. In the South Australian lead smelter town of Port Pirie, asthmatic children have a higher blood lead level than non-asthmatic children. The difference is small but statistically significant. It may be the result of asthmatics being mouth breathers (mouth breathing denies the nose the opportunity of filtering the air) or of the frequent vacuuming of carpets which many carers of asthmatics are advised to do.

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