Lead report figures released

Data from a program designed to monitor blood lead levels in the Silver City has been released.

Data from a program designed to monitor blood lead levels in the Silver City has been released.

Snapshot statistics from the Far West Local Health District’s (FWLHD) Lead Health Program annual report shows a downwards trend in levels for local children.

The 2021 report provided results for 561 children that had at least one test, a decrease of 19 per cent tested in 2020 due to a recall of POCT (Point of Care Testing) strips and COVID-19 restrictions.

A FWLHD spokesperson said the report’s findings would not have been majorly affected even though there was a drop in test numbers.

“It is unlikely this will have impacted greatly on the result given the pattern of previous years, as well that the reduction was only over one quarter and those children are being caught up,” they said.

“Interestingly, there was a reduction of geomean results during the 2020 pandemic period as people were washing their hands much more frequently and less movement within the community.”

While the total number of children tested in 2021 decreased, the number of children in the below five micrograms per decilitre (ug/dL) category is greater than seen in previous years.

The proportion of children in categories above five also decreased compared to all previous years.

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In 2021, 32 per cent of the children aged 1-5 years and seven per cent of children aged six months to 12 months had a notifiable blood lead level above five ug/dL.

“Since the inception of the program in the early 1990s there has been a reduction in blood lead levels which means that the level of risk to the developmental milestones for children growing up in our community has been reduced but it hasn’t eliminated the risk,” the FWLHD spokesperson said.

“It is a positive to have achieved that reduction and to have maintained that reduction, but it still means more work is needed.”

The proportion of all children with blood lead levels under the five ug/dL benchmark has risen to 68 per cent in 2021, up from 13 per cent in 2000.
FWLHD stated release of the recent Lead Report is a timely reminder to parents and carers that all children should continue to be tested annually until they are five years old.

“It’s important that parents know if their kids are picking up lead from their environment and figuring out where in their environment that may be occurring, so they can take steps to manage those problem areas.,” the spokesperson said.

“The data tells us how effective the various interventions are in reducing blood lead levels in children, and also important is identifying elevated blood lead levels and working collaboratively to bring these down to as low as we can get them.”

The Far West Local Health District Lead Report 2021 – Broken Hill Children less than 5 years old will be available at www.fwlhd.health.nsw.gov.au.

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