The LEAD Group Inc. is a charity run by volunteers offering free services in Lead solutions, advice and referrals. Our Lead Safe World Project aims to raise awareness about Lead poisoning prevention and management as well as protection of the environment from Lead.
Whilst the health implications of Lead have been widely recognised and The LEAD Group’s work means it is no longer added to Australia’s new paint or petrol, Lead’s legacy means it is still in our dust, soil, consumer products, water and air. Lead does not break down so it must be removed. Dust within living areas and surrounding soil partly arises from degraded paint and automobile exhaust from the past and is a potential source of lead which has been demonstrated to contribute to elevating blood lead levels especially in children who play in bare contaminated soil or live in pre-1970 houses.
An Australia Study in 2008 demonstrated that if ceiling dust is disturbed and allowed to plume within living areas it could expose children and adults (including workers) to Lead. Consumers of homegrown produce and non-mains drinking water, plus renovators of Australian dwellings built pre-1970 also face the problem of how to avoid creating dust and chips during the attempted removal or preparation for repainting of leaded paint.
Lead is still a pressing concern and more recent research in showing serious health impacts at lower blood Lead levels, yet it’s a problem that is often perceived as already solved. Additionally, much of the blood Lead testing that has been conducted has focused on locations near Lead smelters rather than in older residential areas where people are renovating without knowledge of the risk of creating Lead hazards, or planting vegetables etc. in soil they don’t realise is Lead-contaminated.
Our status as a tax-deductible charity has allowed us to make a deal with Sydney Analytical Laboratories (SAL) so that we can offer Lead testing to the community at a lower price than going directly to any Laboratory as a consumer. This puts us in a unique position of having amassed a wealth of data on over 2000 individual samples of paint, soil, dust, drinking water etc. that have been analysed over the past 8 years.
So here’s what we want to do…
We want to draw attention to the dangers and prevalence of Lead contamination through evidence. We want to collate the data of our existing database of over 2000 results that we have provided management advice for, over the past 8 years, as well as any test kit results that we do in the next 6 months of the campaign (anonymously of course, by postcode). Then we will publish a report on our website.
It is important to state that the information we publish will not be comprehensive enough to be representative nationally or state-wide but we will be able to see the number of cases of high Lead levels by postcode, the magnitude that they deviate from recommended standards, the most frequent sources of high-biohazard contamination (e.g. dust, soil etc.) and the most common recommendations for management.
How could this make a difference?
This could be a great start in building a snapshot of Lead contamination in residential Australia where research has been overlooked. We can then focus media attention on the information, on trends or contaminated hotspots located in our report, that would help the estimated 3.7 million Australian families with Leaded paint in their homes to prevent future Lead exposure, and get more blood Lead testing happening among the predicted 2 million Australians who are at risk of dementia and early death from their past Lead exposure. With more information on Lead contamination hopefully we can propel this issue back into the public’s minds as an issue that warrants the same kind of attention that asbestos has attracted.
In fact, globally the estimated deaths attributable to Lead is 20 times more than for deaths attributable to asbestos. Whereas there’s nothing that can remove asbestos from your body, the difference is that once you know you have an elevated blood Lead level (and thus an increased risk of dementia, heart attack or stroke), it is possible to remove the Lead from your body and decrease your risk, just as losing weight decreases your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.
Watch this space for our next Crowdsourcing project which will be to inspire researchers to run trials on which specific lead-detox measures (especially dietary changes and saunas) are the most effective in reducing blood Lead levels, and thus increasing our chances for healthy longevity.
To accomplish this task we need you…
After facing a cut in government funding last year following the federal election, we are relying on memberships, donations and proceeds from our testing kits and environmental art competition to provide our free Lead advice and management services which large corporations like Dulux and many government agencies like the federal Department of the Environment refer the community to for support.
By donating to our Chuffed Crowdfunding campaign you will not only be giving us the extra resources to utilise the valuable existing data from our Lead test results to publish the report and inform the community, but you will be helping this crucial service continue into the future.
For showing us your support we would like to thank you by offering you some perks, including the chance to do your own Lead testing. Depending on your donation amount, we will post you a Lead Testing Kit and you can collect sample/s to post to the Lab (SAL) for analysis. Then we will write a report for you explaining the results. You can even get the rest of your street involved in testing! See the “Street Savvy Lead Tester” perk. There are other perks too, such as a year’s membership with The LEAD Group or the 2015 Calendar/Art Competition Catalogue. See the campaign page for our recently launched campaign by clicking here!
The LEAD Group Inc. is made up of dedicated volunteers. Since our 1991 inception we have had many achievements both locally in Australia and Internationally.
Founder and President of The Lead Group, Elizabeth O’Brien was awarded the United Nations of Australia Association (UNAA) World Environment Day (WED) Award for Outstanding Service to the Environment in 2004, and has a science degree from Sydney University and Graduate Diplomas in Education and Health Education.