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environment from lead in all its uses: past, current and new uses
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MEDIA RELEASE Thursday 17th November 2005

"Green Lead": Oxymoron or future vision?
Speech - Minerals Council of Australia Sustainable Development Conference

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On November 1st Elizabeth O’Brien, Manager of the Global Lead Advice and Support Service (GLASS) spoke at the Minerals Council Conference at Alice Springs.

O’Brien summarised the ongoing dangers of past and present lead uses and its risks for human health as well as asking who will pay the costs of cleaning up ceiling dust and lead paint.

The conference paper, biographical note on the speaker, print-friendly speech and accompanying slide show (including a video) are all now available online.

Conference Paper html format
Conference Paper
MS Word doc 1.42 MB.
Biographical note
Print-friendly speech
Green Lead slide show

The idea of Green Lead consists of safely recycling the total amount of lead produced every year with zero harm to humans and the environment. O’Brien asked the lead mining industry to ensure that no Australian lead goes into the leaded petrol still being sold in some 81 countries.

One of the important tasks to manage is to make sure that all used lead is recycled properly. This involves eliminating all dispersive non-recoverable uses and maximising safe recycling. Although industry figures claim near 100% recovery and recycling rates for used lead acid batteries, UK OH&S professional Dr. Peter Hurley argues that the recycling rate could be as low as 76%.

Most of the damage is exported to developing countries especially China where labour is not only cheap, but also the workers are uninformed about the associated health risks of working with lead and other heavy metals and toxics found in e-waste. Most, if not all of these workers in poorer countries lack any kind of protection while recycling lead acid batteries and e-waste.

The LEAD Group’s popular website will be kept up-to-date and continue to inform as many people as possible of the dangers of lead poisoning and any progress made by industry and governments around the world.

The take-home message for the Australian lead mining industry was that "Green Lead" is a long-way off and in the meantime, if we are to remain as the world’s largest lead exporting country, community expectations are that the lead mining industry will contribute to the costs of raising awareness and sponsoring information services on lead management, such as the Global Lead Advice and Support Service.

Please contact Elizabeth O’Brien (02) 9716 0014 and/or help sponsor our free services. ###

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