The Living with Lead Alliance response to ‘Misled about lead: assessment of online public health education material from Australia’s lead mining and smelting towns’, by Donna Green and Marianne Sullivan

The following statement may be attributed to Mr Robert Katter, Member for Mount Isa and Chair of the Living with Lead Alliance.

Since 2008, the Living with Lead Alliance (the Alliance) has been implementing a long-term strategy to promote the successful coexistence of community and industry at Mount Isa.

Our objectives have been two-fold: both to raise awareness about the risks and potential health effects of lead in children and adults and inform the community about best-practice prevention of lead exposure.

The Alliance is committed to delivering this information to the community as broadly as possible and in a variety of ways to reach the widest possible audience.

Over the years we have delivered a number of key initiatives in the areas of school education programs, annual expert seminars, broad advertising campaigns, backyard improvement programs, and local partnerships to deliver nutritional education and support.

For instance, each year, the Alliance brings leading Australian toxicologist and emergency physician Dr Mark Little to Mount Isa to deliver seminars to the community and playgroups.

Dr Little discusses the toxic effects of lead to the body, the risk of brain damage to babies and children and the potential health impacts on adults.

He also discusses the best way to reduce the risk of elevated blood lead levels and his presentation is available on our website (PDF).

In 2016, the alliance and Dr Little will be delivering information and talks to all day care centres and kindergartens in Mount Isa.

In 2016, the alliance and Dr Little will be delivering information and talks to all day care centres and kindergartens in Mount Isa.

I encourage all parents to attend and become more informed on the issue of lead within our community.

In October 2015, Townsville Public Health Unit Director Dr Steven Donohue released data detailing the results of blood lead level testing of Mount Isa children.

The results have shown that, since 2006, average blood lead levels in tested Mount Isa children under the age of five have been falling gradually.

The data also showed the number of children under five that are being tested for blood lead levels in Mount Isa has been increasing – especially since the introduction of opportunistic testing at Mount Isa Hospital in August 2014.

I believe the work of the Living with Lead Alliance over the past few years, including the range and quality of information we deliver to Mount Isa residents, has contributed both to the gradual reduction in blood lead levels in tested children and the increase in the number of children tested.

This is a positive result for the Alliance and for the Mount Isa community. Importantly, we remain committed to helping promote this downward trend.

The Alliance is guided by the Mount Isa Lead Health Management Committee and the National Health and Medical Research Council as to the information we deliver to the community.

We will review any opportunities identified in the Green-Sullivan study for the way in which we inform the Mount Isa community on the risks of elevated lead levels in children, pregnant women and families.

It is essential that all residents, parents and children are aware of how to minimise the risk by implementing the alliance’s key messages: Wet wipe, wash and eat well.

Department of Health – Lead research statement, 14 January 2016 (PDF)