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Tuesday, 1 February 1994
Page: 94

(Question No. 540)

Mr McArthur asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 26 October 1993:

  (1) Has $1 million been allocated for surveys in 1993-94 to assess community blood lead levels; if so, (a) when will tenders be called for the conduct of the surveys and (b) what is the target date for completion of the surveys.

  (2) Will the conductors of the surveys be required to include a quota of residents of localities, such as Port Pirie, SA, where median blood lead levels are known to be high; if so, what proportion of respondents will come from such areas; if not, why not.

  (3) Will the National Health and Medical Research Council play a role in the surveys; if so, what role.

Mr Howe —The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

  (1) Funds have been allocated from the portfolio of Environment, Sport and Territories in 1993-94 towards the conduct of a national blood lead survey of children aged from 12 to 60 months.

  (a) Tenders were called in October 1993 for consultants to undertake the development of a nationally agreed methodology for the survey. The agreed methodology for the blood lead survey will be available in late December 1993. The proposed timetable for the blood lead survey is that it should commence in the first half of 1994.

  (b) Interim results are expected from the survey by July 1994 with further periodic reporting. The completion date is expected to be December 1994.

  (2) A statistically random group of Australian children aged between 12 and 60 months will be surveyed. The group may therefore include a number of children from areas such as Port Pirie with high median blood lead levels. It will not, however, specifically target such children. State authorities are already taking action to reduce exposure in communities such as Port Pirie where blood lead levels are known to be high.

  (3) The National Health and Medical Research Council has accepted responsibility for the development of a nationally agreed uniform methodology for undertaking blood lead surveys in children. This methodology will allow surveys to be conducted in each State with results being comparable between the States.