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  QUESTION: Lead risk of shot-putt, 16 Oct 2002, New South Wales Australia

Please comment on the risk involved in children using lead shot putts in athletics.

Dr John GP

ANSWER: 16 Oct 2002

Dear Garth and John,

I have asked the Administrative Executive of Australian Little Athletics and the NSW Education Dept for the lead content of shot putt used by children. The guy from Australian Little Athletics said the shot-puts [is that the correct term?] would have different suppliers because Little Athletics is metric but the schools still use imperial weights. I will hopefully hear back shortly about at least the current lead content once the manufacturers / suppliers have been asked but of course most schools probably have shot puts purchased years ago and the NSW Education Dept did not seem concerned to help me to determine if this is an historic problem or not. Is it possible to know the actual blood lead level and age of the child - out of interest.

Yours sincerely Elizabeth O'Brien

Dear Garth,

would you be so kind as to answer this question in an email to both and our email so we can add your answer with the question to our planned web Q&A section.

Elizabeth O'Brien

Dear Garth

Thanks for your help. The serum lead level came back normal. His WCC was low at 2.4 with decreased Neutrophils,so I am seeking the help of Anand Naidoo in Coffs Harbour. The question of potential lead exposure amongst shot putters remains unresolved. Perhaps some appropriate athletic coach might be able to tell us what the standard material used nowadays, as well as in the past, comprised. Best Wishes John Kramer GP at Woolgoolga, North Coast NSW.

Hi Elizabeth and John,

I have searched Medline and was unable to find any report of lead poisoning due to lead shot puts in sport. I would assume the risk would be very low. Potentially, how one could be exposed to lead, would be if one licked one's hand frequently, and over time, between putting the shot. It looks like a mini research project waiting to be done. One could test a shot put team at the beginning and end of a season, and have as controls javelin throwers or something.
Sorry, I cannot be more specific than that.

Best Regards

Garth Alperstein
Area Community Paediatrician
Community Health Services
Queen Mary Building, Level 6

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