Toxicologist Dr Mark Little has reminded a Mount Isa audience about the need for practical steps to reduce lead exposure in the city.
"Lead - like the sun - is here in Mount Isa and children absorb more lead than adults ," Dr Little told his audience at the North West Expo on the weekend.
Dr Little, a guest of the Living With Lead Alliance, offered five key ways to reduce exposure. "Firstly wash hands before eating, this especially applies to children," Dr Little said. "Secondly wet wipe and mop, as lead accumulates in dust on floors."
Those working with lead should shower and change before coming home, leave shoes and work gear outside and peel and wash all home grown fruit and veg.
Dr Little said sources of lead in Mount Isa were dust, contaminated people, clothes, cars or items, and lead paint. Rain water was not significant because of home water tank restrictions.
Dr Little said inhalation via air was a surprisingly small component of lead intake, according to the Lead Pathways 2017 UQ study.
"Less than five per cent of total lead exposure for people in Mount Isa is through breathing airborne dust," he said. "Whereas 37 to 93 per cent was from swallowing lead in soil or surface dust and less than 24 per cent was due to ingestion via dietary intake of lead, based on national data."
Dr Little said lead binds to the red blood cells and travels around the body with deposits in bone and teeth, the brain, liver and spleen, and lungs and kidneys.
Dr Little said children under four were most as risk from lead exposure, as well as unborn babies, breasting feeding mothers, and those working with lead.
He said all Australians should have a blood lead level of under five micrograms per deciiltre and children's exposure should be minimised as should the exposure of pregnant and breast-feeding women.
"At a blood lead level of less than 10 there is an association with lower IQ, behavioural problems and academic achievements however there is insufficent evidence that lead at this level caused any of the health effects observed," he said.
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