Lead alert update - Second community meeting scheduled


Lead alert update - Second community meeting scheduled

Media release from the Southern DHB
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Public Health South and the Dunedin City Council will report back their findings into potential lead contamination of the Waikouaiti Water Supply at a public meeting on Friday 5 March, it was confirmed today.

The meeting will be held at the East Otago Events Centre, Waikouaiti at 7pm*.

The meeting will discuss the results of the blood tests that have taken place over the past few weeks.

The Dunedin City Council will also update the community on its investigations into potential causes of the elevated lead levels detected in the water supply, and the next steps.

Around 1400 people have had their blood lead levels tested, mostly through the community testing clinics at Waikouaiti and Karitane last week. Results are continuing to be processed as people from the affected communities can still be tested for free through their GP until Friday 19 February.

Southern DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Susan Jack says she is looking forward to reporting back to the community and understands the great interest in the outcomes of the tests. However, she urges people to avoid drawing conclusions at this stage.

“We are aware there has been a lot of discussion and speculation about the results people have been receiving.

“Most people have detectable but very low levels of lead as we would expect in any community. There are a small number of more elevated results coming through as well; again this is not unexpected. For each of these cases, we are providing follow up advice and any care that may be needed. This will include carrying out an assessment of any other sources of potential lead exposure, such as old paint, or through other occupations or pastimes.

“The results require careful interpretation, taking into consideration individual exposures and available literature. We are working with the Ministry of Health and expert ESR scientists to build an accurate picture.

“While we understand people’s interest in seeing results as soon as possible, it’s not as simple as reporting back raw results. We want to make sure the information we share can accurately inform our next steps. This does take some time and we thank the community for their patience.”

*It is hoped that at the time of the meeting we will be operating in COVID Alert Level 1. If not, the meeting will be held under the alert level restrictions on the day. This may involve limiting numbers at the venue, and/or an online event. In any scenario, the meeting will be recorded and published online. Further updates will be provided.