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Media Release - Friday 3rd August 2007 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Recall all leaded products from the mouths of babes

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A global lead poisoning prevention charity has called on Australian manufacturers and importers to recall all leaded products that are likely to be mouthed by babies and young children.

The LEAD Group, a charity based in Sydney, runs the only lead poisoning and lead contamination management and prevention information and referral service in the world. The group’s President Elizabeth O’Brien wants to see the end of lead poisoning globally in her lifetime. “That would mean removing lead paint from 3.5 million Australian homes and ensuring the toys and jewellery that young children put in their mouths is not leaded.”

“Our first target, developed 16 years ago when my children showed high lead levels in their blood,” says O’Brien, “is a global ban on leaded petrol.”

“But a ban is not enough! The real concern is that once lead is dispersed (most effectively by being in leaded petrol, but also very effectively by being in leaded paint), the lead remains in the environment until cleaned up, and recycled into more controllable lead products.”

“You may not know it but you have lead dust from petrol and paint inside your home – in the roof cavity dust, interior dust, carpets, soil – and inside you – mainly in your bones where it can recirculate into your blood stream and send you to an early death through heart attack or stroke,” says O’Brien, who was awarded the United Nations Association of Australia Award for Outstanding Service to the Environment.

O’Brien advises: don’t listen if a doctor says: “it’s not worth testing your children just because they’ve been playing with Fisher-Price or Thomas the Tank Engine toys.” The amount of lead allowed in paint especially residential paint, has been decreased but you only need add a warning label and you can still sell highly leaded industrial (auto, marine, farm machinery, etc) paint today in Australia. A ban on adding lead to paint is planned for 2009.

But a ban is not a recall and a recall is never 100% effective. The LEAD Group will have to run its service for centuries before all the leaded paint that has been sold is gradually removed and before importers are smart enough to test every load of children’s products and jewellery coming from China and India etc. We foolishly export lots of lead in the form of ore or used lead acid batteries or TV or computer monitors and never think it may return to haunt us.

Instead, O’Brien advises: ask your GP for a blood lead test to know what your blood lead level is, and especially what your child’s blood lead level is. Since most doctors did their training, the acceptable blood lead level has reduced drastically. Don’t stop searching for the sources of the lead until your blood lead level is below 2 micrograms per decilitre (0.1 micromoles per litre).

Because testing is so crucial, The LEAD Group sells a kit which allows you to send samples of jewellery, toys and other metal, PVC or painted consumer products, dust, soil, water, paint, etc to a lab for lead analysis. The LEAD Group currently runs its information service on the proceeds of these kits yet they present fabulous value to the kit purchaser.

“If I was a paint manufacturer, I wouldn’t wait for a class action as in Rhode Island and other US states to force my company to pay for removal of lead paint from houses, I’d institute a voluntary recall: pay people to remove old paint especially if its chalking or flaking or on surfaces children might chew like windowsills and other woodwork, and ensure the lead is safely transported, collected and recycled. Similarly, importers – TEST YOUR PRODUCTS!”

Contact: Elizabeth O’Brien, The LEAD Group - (02) 9716 0014 – ###

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Last Updated 29 March 2012
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