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

We refer to the NHMRC Draft information paper: evidence on the effects of lead on human health. Our comments relate specifically to Table 1 on page 5 entitled “ Sources of lead in Australia”. The Australian Government Department of the Environment is aware of an additional source of lead that the Committee could consider adding to this list.


Tetra ethyl lead (TEL) continues to be used as an octane enhancer  in aviation gasoline for piston engine aircraft and in some racing fuels used in particular motor and water sports. In Australia, it is estimated that approximately 40 to 70 tonnes of lead in lead compounds is released to the environment each year due to the decomposition of TEL in aviation gasoline. Additional emissions of lead compounds through the decomposition of TEL in racing fuels is not expected to exceed one quarter of a tonne per annum. It is estimated that emissions of lead compounds resulting from the use of tetraethlyl lead compounds may constitute as much as one sixth of Australia’s annual lead emissions.*


* Source: Department of Health, 2014, Environment Tier II assessment for tetra-alkyl lead compounds, Viewed on 12 September 2014 at http://www.nicnas.gov.au/chemical-information/imap-assessments/imap-assessments/tier-ii-environment-assessments/tetraalkyl-lead-compounds.


Page reviewed: 19 May, 2015