Lead Tests Prompt Batemans Bay Water Warning

Posted in: Drinking Water News, Global Water News, Water Contamination
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Article courtesy of Carmen McIntosh | March 22, 2015 | Batemans Bay Post | Shared as educational material

PARENTS and pregnant women should take care when drinking tap water in Batemans Bay after a university study found higher than recommended levels of toxic lead in samples from the region.

Macquarie University’s Healthy Water for Healthy Lives project, led by postgraduate researcher Paul Harvey, took samples from hundreds of CWA halls in NSW and tested for arsenic, copper, lead and manganese.

While the Australian Drinking Water Guideline recommends a maximum of 10 micrograms of lead per litre of water to reduce risks to children, infants and pregnant women, samples taken from the Batemans Bay CWA Hall at Sunshine Bay in January yielded 12mg.

Mr Harvey collected other samples from around Batemans Bay, which also contained lead,  but the amounts have not yet been released.

While Mr Harvey was unavailable for comment to the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner this week, his supervisor, Professor Mark Taylor of Macquarie’s environmental science department, was.

He said that while the Batemans Bay result was only marginally over the recommended guidelines, several health and science bodies had determined there was no safe level of exposure.

“We’ve sampled several local government areas along the South Coast and there’s been a consistent return of water lead values above those guidelines; about 20 to 30 per cent exceeded guideline values,” he said.

“We know this problem is not unique to one location.

“This is a pervasive problem; lead is a persistent pollutant and it’s a neurotoxin, so this is an issue that everybody should be aware of for a whole range of reasons.”

Professor Taylor said residents who had young children, and pregnant women should be concerned.

“Elevated concentrations of lead in water are not good,” he said.

“It (can) cause Aspergers, it affects

children’s outcomes, their early development in terms of IQ, behaviour and attention for example, and so if those exposures can be modified, you should.

“As parents or as government or as industry, we all have our roles to play.”

He recommended residents run their taps for a couple of minutes in the morning before drinking the water.

“The water stands in those pipes overnight and it’s slightly acidic and if there is any lead or brass in there it acts on that lead-related material and causes it to dissolve and get into the water,” he said.

“If you drink that first thing in the morning that’s when you get your dose, whereas if you flush that water, it is going to be cleaner.”

Professor Taylor said that while running taps each morning was the sensible precautionary approach, the source needed to be identified.

“That could be flashing on the roof, it could be the pipes that bring it from the main to the house, it could be the taps, it could be the type of rainwater tank, which is highly unusual, or sometimes it is the main supply,” he said.

“Unfortunately it’s not a simple answer.”

Batemans Bay CWA president Maureen Kinross was surprised by the results, given the hall was constructed in 2004.

She said she was not too concerned by the results however members would discuss what action they would take to alert other users of their hall, in particular children and pregnant women.

“If you run the taps it should decrease the longer the taps run,” she said.

“If it was much more than that I would start to get worried but none of us ladies (in the CWA) are going to be having any babies soon as far I know.”

 

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