Broken Hill lead studied in detail
Researchers say they have solid proof that current mining operations are responsible for lead contamination.
A new study finds that lead is emitted as dust every day by the mines near the regional city of Broken Hill in NSW.
The lead problem has previously been blamed on underground ore, leaded petrol and paint, but Professor Mark Taylor from Macquarie University says the new studies put it beyond dispute that local mining is still letting lead dust into the air.
“The misconceptions propagated in the past [were] that the reason why children are leaded or there's a lead problem in Broken Hill [had] nothing to do with the mining operations, and it's all to do with naturally-occurring lead,” Professor Taylor said.
“That's all just — for want of a better word — complete poppycock.”
He said sensors across the town were able to trace the contamination to the Southern Operations mine owned by Perilya.
“This time we've used a suite of techniques that make it absolutely clear that there are contemporary sources contributing to exposure,” Professor Taylor said.
“When you look at the dust, you can see fresh cubes of galena and that can only come from one source.
“And then on top of that, if you don't believe any of that stuff, there's a video in the article which shows the dust blowing off the ore piles at the Southern Operations.”
About a third of children in Broken Hill have blood-lead levels above national guidelines for exposure.
The NSW Government is spending millions of dollars to lower lead exposure in the city.