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  QUESTION: What to test when there could be high lead & copper in drinking water, 04 Nov 2005, Queensland Australia


I live in Weipa Queensland, I have recently come across a document from Comalco mining stating there is high levels of lead/copper in the drinking water at their Lorim Point operations. there are other companies based at Lorim Point and were not notified of this. there are a lot of health issues here, most involving vomiting and diarrhoea. I have spoken to a lot of people and we all have the same sight focusing problems. I believe all the town water should be tested. how can I get this to happen? this is a huge issue for the people of Weipa.

please help

ANSWER: 04 Nov 2005

Dear Madam,

the fastest way to get action is to ask all those people who have been having trouble focusing and / or have been vomiting or having diarrhoea to have a blood lead test. You should also ask the doctor whether s/he can test them for copper. Even if one person has a blood lead level above the notifiable level (15 micrograms per decilitre ie 15 g/dL), this puts the issue in front of the Health Department who are required to follow up and this follow up would include testing the drinking water. If more than one person has a blood lead above 15 g/dL and the water is above the acceptable limit, then all who drink the water should be tested and naturally the Health Department should be particularly keen to test any young children - if there are any.

I'd be very interested to hear what happens. Please keep in touch.

Elizabeth O'Brien

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