Unsafe lead exposure levels could result in public liability injury claims

Date: Oct 15, 2013

As residents in New South Wales grapple with potentially unsafe minimum lead exposure levels – and the biggest group fighting against lead exposure loses its funding – public liability injury claims may be laying in wait.

According to ABC Environment, the non profit Global Lead Advice and Support Service (GLASS) could lose its already meager funding in the near future, which has many residents up in arms. GLASS founder Elizabeth O'Brien told the news source that NSW residents, and those in Sydney in particular, may be exposed to unacceptably high levels of the toxin.

GLASS had been operating for 22 years, and had responded to thousands of calls over the years that reported where potentially high levels of lead could be found. Now, however, this service may have reached its end.

"It was just $115,000 a year," O'Brien told ABC. "But it allowed for a few paid staff to manage the 150 volunteers, and things like public liability insurance."

The harmful effects of lead exposure

O'Brien and others in NSW have good reason to worry about excessively high lead exposure levels. When lead builds up in the body over the course of months or years, it can lead to serious health problems – especially in children. It is most often found in lead-based paints or lead-contaminated dust in older buildings.

In adults, lead exposure can lead to high blood pressure, worsening mental functions, pain in the extremities, weakness, memory loss and other cognitive problems.

The slashed funding for GLASS comes as other groups in NSW have raised concerns over the high use of lead-based products in the state.

Although lead petrol has long fallen out of use, Australia's mining and smelting operations and heavy use of lead paint are still two of the biggest culprits for exposure.

"Although Australia continues to be a world leader in lead metal mining, smelting and processing there has been a significant lack of research funding directed towards understanding exposures and the real risks associated with the lead industry," Mark Patrick Taylor, an environmental science professor at Macquarie University, wrote in an article for ABC.

Ms O'Brien plans to fight the cut spending, but in the mean time, she is encouraging all residents to do whatever they can to raise awareness over the dangers of lead exposure.

Those who have potentially been exposed to lead may want to get in touch with a personal injury lawyer in Sydney to determine the next course of action.

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