Port Pirie Lead Levels 2023 Annual Report

The 2023 annual report on blood lead levels of children in Port Pirie shows mixed results for reported blood lead indicators compared to the previous year.

SA Health has been reporting blood leads since around 1984, and the results published today are a snapshot of the last 10 years, which includes the full year of 2023.

There has been a decrease in the number of children who were tested at their second birthday with levels above five micrograms per decilitre, and a substantial decrease in the number with levels equal to, or above, 10 micrograms per decilitre.

Children who turned two-years-old in 2023 were born after a period of reported lower lead in air, as reported by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). This means they were exposed to lower lead levels since birth in 2021, resulting in lower peak levels at this age compared to children born in previous years.

However, the latest results show a deterioration in results across other age groups, including pregnant people, compared to 2022. The number of children with levels equal to, or above, 20 micrograms per decilitre, has also increased, with nine more children compared to last year.

The EPA has confirmed that Lead-in-Air levels reported since 2019 have been variable. While Nyrstar’s Lead-in Air licence limits were met in 2023, in some locations 2023 levels were worse than those reported in 2022. There have been short periods of Lead-in-Air improvement since 2019 but they have not been consistently observed across the city.

SA Health and the Yorke and Northern Local Health Network Environmental Health Centre provide voluntary blood lead screening, various lead-exposure interventions, and customised support to young families in Port Pirie.

This is in partnership with the Port Pirie Task Force (which oversees the Government Lead Action Plan), the Targeted Lead Abatement Program (TLAP) and the Port Pirie Regional Council who also provide exposure minimisation support and community-wide education and awareness programs to the Port Pirie community.

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