Media Release – 2nd June 2012
Call for Australian lead mining companies to fund research, and for a more stringent National approach to lead poisoning
Australia’s Lead Mining companies – particularly the largest – Xstrata and BHP Billiton– should help finance blood lead level tests in the countries where their lead is sold, says Elizabeth O’Brien, President of the NGO The LEAD Group. “A national blood lead survey of all ages in Australia is at least a decade overdue.”
“We also call on them to help fund research into treatments for lead poisoning,” she said. US researchers predict that 30 million US citizens will have their lives curtailed through heart attacks or strokes due to earlier lead exposure.
“Xstrata and BHP Billiton are two of the big miners who will be affected by the mining tax. The Federal Government should use some of the tax on this national survey and follow-up national action to bring down blood lead levels.
“The research that we’d most like to see done, would be double blind trials (where appropriate) of the following potential lead treatments which may avert early death for millions of Australians and people in other countries using Australian lead:
“The LEAD Group has surveyed all State health departments on the issue of lead.
“Each State has a different policy. Queensland is the best at analysing and reporting cases of lead poisoning, online, whilst Western Australia has the most stringent blood lead action level (5 µg/dL – micrograms per decilitre), but only for children under five years old.
“What emerges from the responses to our survey (reported in the latest issue of our ‘LEAD Action News,’ just published on line) is that there ought to be a federal action plan which the States have to follow. This would bring us in to line with our allies.
“In May, the US has set a new ‘blood lead action level’ of 5 µg/dL, for children, and Australia needs to act quickly to catch up, and even go further, by applying the level to adults too,” says Ms O’Brien. “Or even a more stringent level across the board.”
The LEAD Group is at the forefront of disseminating, globally, knowledge about lead management via its Global Lead Advice and Support Service (GLASS), and therefore calls for more support for its activities, especially from the federal government and those state governments which benefit most from lead mining royalties.
Several members of The LEAD Group’s Technical Advisory Board will join other Australian and overseas experts to present at “Eliminating Childhood Lead Toxicity in Australia – A Little is Still Too Much” Forum in Room – X5B 292 at Macquarie University, Tuesday 5 June 2012, 9.45am to 4pm.
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Last Updated 02 June 2012
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