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Thursday, 28 July 2011

Lead – another heavy metal in flux

As Health Canada moves to reduce cadmium in jewelry as noted on this blog a few days ago, right on its heals it has issued a lead science document and risk management strategy for public comment http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/contaminants/lead_sos-plomb_ecs-eng.php   Join in the public conversation and stand up to speak your voice, it is part of our role in a civil society. 

The reduction in health impacts from lead exposure is a national success.  Most past exposure has been through lead added to gasoline, a practice that was only eliminated in 1990.  Science now is identifying that while efforts to date were great, that there are more gains to be made by further reductions in exposure to lead by Canadians.  

A point to note in the science assessment is the lack of epidemiological cohort studies looking at what benefits have been accrued through the actions of the last 30 years.  The number of illnesses averted, children protected, improvement in academic performance that can be attributed to the successful public health actions in reducing lead exposures.  We are not good at celebrating success - in part because that means we must acknowledge past governments and not something current governments can take credit for.

We are good at measuring deficits and disease and the science document does this very well.
Canadians and most of the developed world continue to improve in health and wellbeing.   The detractor is that there are more important contributors to better health and disease, such as wealth distribution, than either cadmium or lead – but the latter are easier to regulate and the lower hanging fruit to be picked for a government that wants to look proactive and prefers to avoid the difficult issues.

The proposed lead risk management strategy outlines what could or would be done.  The lead strategy lacks the specifics of even of the cadmium in jewelry intention document. 

So in this case, it is the floating of a trial lead balloon.  Further action will only occur when Canadians speak up on these issues.  You can be assured that industry representatives will be active in their responses.

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