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Students in lead study

Wednesday, 26th September, 2018

Macquarie University Students (From left) Max Mclennan-Gillings, Kara Fry, Amelia Dani, Anya Palaversich and Ross Kingswell surveying lead in a local backyard (7). PICTURE: Callum Marshall Macquarie University Students (From left) Max Mclennan-Gillings, Kara Fry, Amelia Dani, Anya Palaversich and Ross Kingswell surveying lead in a local backyard (7). PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

Students from Macquarie University are this week testing the levels of lead exposure both indoors and outdoors at local residents’ properties.

Macquarie University student Kara Fry said this year’s study was looking more at the levels of dust across people’s homes than previous studies focusing on soil. 

“We’re looking primarily at dust inside the homes and XRFing (X-ray fluorescence) the front yards to be able to tell if there’s a link between that,” she said.

“If we can understand how the dust is getting inside the homes and how it’s getting ingested by the residents then we can understand how to fix the problem.”

As well as measuring the levels of lead contamination in Broken Hill, Kara said the studies would be helpful in revealing how lead had affected things in certain ways.

“Broken Hill has a very strong history of lead and we’re interested to see whether it’s changed and evolving,” she said.

“Like we saw with the study of sparrows, they’d gotten used to the lead in Broken Hill and (that) resulted in adaptation. 

“We have seen a decline in children’s blood lead but there’s been years with different peaks and we don’t know if that’s because there’s a bigger sample size or it isn’t an issue. If we can look into the homes that linkage can be solidified more.”

Kara said the relationship between the university and Broken Hill was strong and that more studies would happen in the future.

“Macquarie University has such a good reputation and alliance with Broken Hill particularly the Environmental Lead Program,” she said.

“We’ve got contacts there and every year there’s at least one study from Macquarie up here. Our results will go to the Environmental Lead Program so that they can implement remediation and then next year I think we’ll be up doing more.”

For those interested in participating, the students have said they can fit more people in during the week so long as you get back to them within the next day or so. 

To register interest and find out more information email kara.fry@students.mq.edu.au and visit www.360dustanalysis.com to fill out a short questionnaire on your household, which also gives the students consent to use your household data in their research. 

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