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Higher water charges prompt lead fears

Friday, 22nd November, 2013

BH University Department of Rural Health PhD student Frances Boreland. BH University Department of Rural Health PhD student Frances Boreland.

By Emily Roberts

The public has expressed its concerns that a water price rise will also result in a rise in blood lead levels in children.

At the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal public hearing this week, submissions from community groups expressed concerns that if water prices were to rise, an aim to save on water consumption could increase lead dust in the city.

Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health PhD student Frances Boreland said it is a big concern for the community.

“To be lead safe, we recommend wet-wiping, wet-mopping and having a green yard,” she said.

“Obviously, we can’t cut down on wet-wiping and mopping so the only thing you can effectively do is cut down on lawn.”

Ms Boreland said doing this would mean people would have to do something else to keep lead dust down.

“There are a number of tough, good looking plants that need very little water.

“You could also use something like mulch or cracker-dust,” she said.

“I can understand why people wouldn’t want to do that.”

A number of concerns come to mind with the price rise, Ms Boreland said.

“I can see a lot people have already made their gardens water wise (after the last drought),” she said.

“I’m not sure how much more room people have to move.

“Also, so many other cost of living items have increased.

“My concern is that money is tight already and there is the potential for things to get more challenging.”

Mrs Boreland said she understood Essential Energy’s point of view, but they should do a smaller price rise over a longer period of time.

“I think the community is also in between a rock and a hard place,” she said.

“But this could be a way that they adapt.”

Meanwhile, the National Health and Medical Research Council recommended that all children’s exposure to lead should be minimised.

Blood lead levels in Broken Hill children aged under five years remain below the current level of concern for the majority of children tested, according to the annual blood lead trends report released by Far West Local Health District.

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