There was a slight increase in lead levels for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in 2019, according to the latest Lead Report by the Far West Local Health District.
The report stated there was an increase in the number of children being screened for blood lead levels compared to the previous year.
Significant outcomes in the 2019 annual lead health report were:
- 681 children were screened (an increase of 6.9% from 2018) The geometric lead mean level (age-sex standardized) for all children (1 to < 5 years) increased slightly by 0.4 ug/dL (from 4.7 ug/dL in 2018 to 5.1 ug/dL in 2019).
- The mean result for Aboriginal children increased from 7.9 in 2018 to 8.5 ug/dL in 2019.
- The non-Aboriginal children mean result increased from 4.0 in 2018 to 4.2 ug/dL in 2019.
- 201 children aged 6 months to <12 months were screened and the geometric mean lead level was 2.8 ug/dL, compared to 2.7 ug/dL from 156 children in 2018. In 2019, as in 2018, 85% of children in this age group had a blood lead level below 5 ug/dL, compared to 75% in 2012.
- In 2019, a total of 159 newborn cord bloods were tested for lead content and the geometric mean was 0.7 ug/dL – the same as in 2018. All newborns, regardless of Aboriginality, had blood lead levels below the notifiable level.
Blood lead testing is free and available at the BH Community Health Centre (2-4 Sulphide Street) and Maari Ma Primary Health. The Community Health Centre can be contacted on 8080 1100 and Maari Ma Primary Health on 8082 9777.
NSW Health provides a range of resources including factsheets, response protocols and DIY sources to address elevated blood lead levels at www.health.nsw.gov.au.
The 2019 Lead Report highlights ongoing work is still needed to reduce blood lead levels in Broken Hill children, particularly those with an Aboriginal background. Maintaining the child blood lead monitoring program is an important public health initiative in Broken Hill. The release of the 2019 Lead Report is a timely reminder to parents and carers that all children should continue to be tested annually until they are 5 years old.
The Far West Local Health District Lead Report 2019 – Broken Hill Children less than 5 years old is available at www.fwlhd.health.nsw.gov.au