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NHMRC Draft Information Paper: evidence on the effects of lead on human health submission

This submission reflects the views of
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Public Health Registrar, former General Practitioner
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Q1. Is the draft Information Paper presented and written in a manner that is easy to understand?: 


The paper appears to be easy to understand for the layperson, with technical terms described.

The creation of a short 1-2 page summary of pertinent practice points for clinicians should be considered. This should highlight the recommendation that all individuals with lead levels of over 5 should be investigated for possible sources of lead exposure, as well as the symptoms of toxicity and when testing should be considered.

Q2. Does the draft Information Paper clearly outline how the evidence was reviewed and interpreted by the Lead Working Committee?: 

Yes, the paper does outline this.

Q3. Is there additional evidence on the health effects in humans of exposure to lead that needs to be considered? : 

No. The review is comprehensive and adequately covers the known health effects of lead exposure.

Q4. Is there additional evidence on the management of exposure to lead in humans in non-endemic areas that needs to be considered? : 

The resource implications of the introduction of an action level at 5 µg/dL have not been considered. Although this is not specifically listed as being in or out of the scope of the information paper, it is an important consideration. As the information paper states, there is very little evidence regarding the prevalence of BLLs over 5 in either children or adults in Australia. However, it has been stated that up to 100,000 Australian children aged 0-4 years may have BLLs in this range.1 If this were the case, the resource implications are immense. The paper should acknowledge this and include a recommendation for increased resources to be allocated for the purposes of lead source identification and removal, if this is found to be required through either the results of the recommended surveillance of children’s BLLs or following publication of the updated NHMRC guidance.



1. Taylor MP, Winder C, Lanphear B. Eliminating childhood lead toxicity in Australia–A little is still too much. Med J Aust 2012;197:493.

Page reviewed: 19 May, 2015