Toxic Truth: Faster lead-blood level tests soon available

Rick and Julie West with daughter Sunnita, 14, and son Maliq, 9, at their Boolaroo home, which is near the old Pasminco site. Picture: Peter Stoop
Rick and Julie West with daughter Sunnita, 14, and son Maliq, 9, at their Boolaroo home, which is near the old Pasminco site. Picture: Peter Stoop

NORTH Lake Macquarie children and pregnant women will be told in coming weeks when and where they can have their blood lead levels tested for free.

Hunter New England Health public health physician Craig Dalton said the district had been planning to buy the most advanced blood lead level testing device available, which is called Leadcare Plus and manufactured by Massachusetts-based Magellan Diagnostics.

‘‘We are still awaiting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the LeadCare Plus’ device,’’ Dr Dalton told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘To speed up the process, we have ordered and are awaiting delivery of another [FDA approved] device, called the LeadCare II, to carry out the testing.’’

The Lead Care II collects a finger prick sample that can measure a level as low as 3.3 micrograms per decilitre of blood.

The Leadcare Plus can measure levels as low as 1.9µg/dl.

Both devices deliver results in three minutes.

‘‘Once the device arrives from the supplier we will need to run some trials and undertake staff training, which will take around four weeks,’’ Dr Dalton said.

‘‘As soon as this is completed, we will begin testing in the community.’’

The free testing is available for children under five years of age as well as pregnant women living in Boolaroo, Speers Point and Argenton.

Questions; Hunter New England Population Health Unit on 4924 6499 or email phenquiries@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au.