Posted in | News | Lead

Mount Isa Kids Paying a High Price

The children of North-West Queensland mining town of Mount Isa seem to be paying a high price for living near one of the most productive mines in world history.

The mining city has been screening blood for lead poisoning in children aged between one and four since 2006. The mine operators and the government have apparently been playing down the health threat for years.

What is more appalling is the indifference shown by some parents. When test results in 2008 confirmed that the children were suffering from lead poisoning many of the parents did nothing. Lead levels in the blood higher than 10 micrograms have led to children developing behavioural and intellectual retardation.

In fact there are estimates of IQ reduction for such children by about 7 points. The first of the surveys was released in 2008 and found about 11% of the children infected with blood lead levels above the safety limit set by the WHO.

In a follow up study in 2010 it has been found that 5% of the children still have higher blood lead levels than the international safety limits.

Residents are strangely unconcerned about the very real threat of lead poisoning that their children face. This may be because they are not aware of the risks of exposure.

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