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QUESTION: Whether to collect rain water if living near a coal fired water heating furnace - 05 Mar 2007 NSW, Australia


We live near Grafton Base Hospital, they have a coal fired water heating furnace. The coal dust/soot fallout at times can almost turn the top of the wheelie bin from yellow to black. Does this constant coal soot fallout have any health risks, say we inhale some of this soot, or could we collect rainwater knowing it will wash soot whilst running from roof too watertank? I have made a point of this problem to the local authorities before, nothing happened, I was told that there is no real health threat. I am still sceptical about that response.

Concerned parent.

ANSWER: 11 Jul 2007

Dear John,

Thanks very much for your query. We really appreciate your concern for possible contaminants in roof-collected rain water. There are some suggestions we would like to make, the first being that it is a good idea to have your children tested for blood Lead especially if they are very young. This would be done by the GP. This is because one of the contaminants that emanate from coal furnaces is Lead. The second suggestion is that you should have your roof run-off rain water (if you can collect it) and soil around the house or preferably dust wipes inside the house tested for lead not only because it is associated with coal furnaces but because lead is a marker for the presence of other contaminants. We have a DIY kit available for the soil, dust and water tests, information is on our website via the following link: Do It Yourself Lead Safe Test Kits Ad

Kindly let us know if you would like to purchase the kit as we can have that sent to you very soon.

Best regards,

Patrick Mugo Muraguri

Volunteer Information Officer

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