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Mums key to ‘lead action’

Wednesday, 4th March, 2015

Concerned parents ‘Irish’ Cunningham and Esther LaRovere with their one-year-old son Phoenix who recently returned a blood lead level reading higher than that considered acceptable. PICTURE: Erica Visser Concerned parents ‘Irish’ Cunningham and Esther LaRovere with their one-year-old son Phoenix who recently returned a blood lead level reading higher than that considered acceptable. PICTURE: Erica Visser

By Erica Visser

Dr Bruce Lanphear relies on “pissed off mums” to trigger government action on children’s exposure to lead in high-risk communities like Broken Hill.

The renowned professor gave a presentation at the City Council Chambers yesterday on his alarming findings.

Around 40 people listened intently including concerned residents and representatives from the University Department of Rural Health, which was recently responsible for securing $30 million in state government funding for a lead program.

Parents Irish Cunningham and Esther LaRovere also attended with one-year-old son Phoenix, whose recent lead test had returned a higher-than-acceptable reading.

Australian guidelines recommended children have blood lead levels of less than 10 micrograms per decilitre, however the figure was under review and could be halved.

Phoenix’s level sat at 13 micrograms per decilitre, his parents said.

“We’ve put grass down in the yard to try and alleviate it,” said Mr Cunningham.

“We’ll just have to keep monitoring it.”

Dr Lanphear told the family yesterday that while they should be concerned, it was impossible to draw conclusions on any individual child as the research was representative of the entire population.

He told attendees yesterday that increasing the awareness of parents had proven ineffective in the lowering of lead levels, as most young children were like “little vacuum cleaners” who put foreign objects in their mouths.

Instead, abatement measures, which could occur as a result of the recent funding, were part of the solution as long as they were ongoing while mining continued to recontaminate the city.

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