Environmental Health Centre 1996 - 2006
In 1992 the Public Health Unit reported elevated blood lead levels in children living in North Lake Macquarie. Just over 60% of North Lake Macquarie children aged 0-13 years had a blood lead level above the (then) National Health and Medical Research Councils (NHMRC) target of 10 µg/dL.
There was also wide spread soil contamination with 70% of samples having lead levels exceeding the level for further investigation of 300 parts per million (ppm). The use of slag as landfill contributed to the spread of contaminated soil in the area. The Environmental Health Centre was established in 1996 with the goal of reducing children’s blood lead levels and implemented a range of strategies including health promotion, greening, abatement and a blood lead testing program.
The Environmental Health Centre conducted an annual blood lead monitoring program for the children living in the North Lake Macquarie area. The Final Report of the blood lead monitoring survey from the Environmental Health Centre was completed in 2006. The results showed continued decreases in the average blood lead level of the children down to an average of 4.2 µg/dL , with only 4% of under 13 year olds and 7% of under 5 year olds having a blood lead level in excess of the (then) NHMRC goal of 10 µg/dL.
It is important that all communities practice lead-safe behaviours. A DVD promoting lead-safe behaviours addressing both contaminated soils and lead paint removal was distributed in the North Lake Macquarie area in late 2006. Recent concerns have highlighted that there may still be hot spots of lead in North Lake Macquarie associated with exposure to old lead dust released during house renovations, peeling paint, or exposure to lead contaminated slag. The Lead Safe Blitz VIDEO: a step-by-step guide to protecting your family from lead
The final Environmental Health Centre Annual Report 2005-2006 was produced in 2006. With the closure of the Pasminco Cockle Creek smelter in 2003 and the encouraging results from the last round of testing in June 2006, there was no longer a need for the Environmental Health Centre to have a continued presence in the community. Services previously provided by the Environmental Health Centre had been handed over to other appropriate service providers.