Macquarie University professor Mark Taylor scrutinises Mount Isa Mines commissioned Lead Pathways Study into Air

Professor of Environmental Science Mark Taylor, from Macquarie University. Photo: Contributed.
Professor of Environmental Science Mark Taylor, from Macquarie University. Photo: Contributed.

MOUNT Isa Mines has acknowledged that fallout causes lead levels in children through its commissioned report.

But the report’s recommendations appear to have passed an “unfair burden of responsibility” onto residents, said Macquarie University professor Mark Taylor.

The Lead Pathways Study into Air advised Mount Isa residents have their blood lead levels monitored, continually clean their houses, wash home grown fruit and vegetables and focus on personal hygiene. 

Prof Taylor said some houses in the most at-risk areas would have to be cleaned up to seven  times a day to be protected from exposure. “No parent can do that,” he said. 

It’s the third report commissioned by Mount Isa Mines since 2006 with the other two reports focusing on land and water. Professor Taylor said the most critical study was released last and he suspected the report had been finalised “some time ago” for peer review. 

“So we have waited now one to two decades for basic advice to reduce dust and emissions,” he said.  

“They now have basically fessed up but they are still denying causation of their emissions.” 

Prof Taylor questioned a table in the study comparing lead levels in Mount Isa children in 2008 and 2010 to the Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic model predictions. The study said Mount Isa children in the data “might have been exposed to additional sources of lead from lead-based paint, leaded petrol residues, and lead acid batteries.” 

“Again, what they are saying is ‘it must be something else’,” he said.  

Prof Taylor has published numerous reports into his findings of lead concerns in Mount Isa. 

He was disappointed that the Lead Pathways Study into Air did not refer to any of his study directly, although had alluded to it when explaining dust fallout from the mine caused health issues.

“We already knew that 10 years ago, and probably longer,” Prof Taylor said.  

“There is nothing new we didn’t already know.”

“We knew about the dust coming from the mine...we knew about elevated levels...we knew the source of the cause.”