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Researchers alarmed by high toxin levels in Townsville playgrounds

Researchers alarmed by high toxin levels in Townsville playgrounds
December 8, 2014
Parks / Play / Safety /

Researchers from Macquarie University have detected elevated levels of toxic lead, nickel and arsenic on children's play equipment in the north Queensland city of Townsville.

Having taken swabs of dust at several Townsville public playgrounds adjacent to the city's port, Macquarie University's Dr Mark Taylor said the results showed traces of the toxic elements all exceeded state and national benchmarks for health.

Dr Taylor told the ABC "the largest and most common exceedence would be lead, followed probably by nickel."

Lead is a neuro-toxic, cadmium also has similar problems in high exposures, while arsenic is also known to be a carcinogen.

Dr Taylor added that arsenic and cadmium also exceeded standards, stating that the levels were “too high and we need to do something to get those lower to make sure that people aren't inadvertently exposed."

Dr Taylor said he was able to trace isotopes from lead concentrate back to Townsville's port, stating “we looked at the composition of the lead in those wipes and compared it to the ores that we know are being shipped out of the Port of Townsville.

"And indeed what our studies showed is that the concentrations tend to be greatest nearer the sites closer to the Port."

In a statement, the Port of Townsville said it would be seeking its own analysis of the results before making further comment.

A spokeswoman for the Port authority stated “our organisation remains committed to maintaining high standards of environment management control and continually engages with port tenants to ensure best practices are being adhered to."

The study was commissioned by the North Queensland Conservation Council, whose spokeswoman Wendy Tubman said dust had been a controversial topic across the northern region.

Tubman stated “we knew that over the years there had been a lot of community concern about what we call the black dust in Townsville.

"There is evidence now to suggest that we needed to have a further look at this, and to see if we can improve on what's happening at the moment because we are above the trigger levels."

The results of the study were released in a briefing to the Townsville Port, the Queensland Department of Environment and Townsville City Council.

Dr Taylor said levels of the toxic elements were not as high as those recorded in resource industry centres such as Mount Isa, which has previously recorded high lead levels in soil around residential areas.

However, he said the levels in Townsville were high enough to pose a potential risk and the study was seeking to identify how this could be addressed.

He concluded "lead is a neuro-toxic, cadmium also has similar problems in high exposures, and also arsenic is known to be a carcinogen (and) we don't want these in excess in the environment.”

Image included for illustrative purposes only.

17th October 2014 - RESEARCH SHOWS BROKEN HILL CHILDREN AFFECTED BY CONTAMINATED PLAYGROUNDS 

12th April 2012 - NEW PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT STANDARD PUBLISHED 

14th March 2012 - NEARLY HALF OF AUSSIE KIDS DON’T PLAY EVERY DAY, STUDY FINDS

13th March 2012 - KIWI CHILDREN DEPRIVED OF CRUCIAL PLAY TIME  

6th December 2011 - PRIME MINISTER ENCOURAGES CHILDREN TO PLAY SPORT

‚Äč27th August 2011 - POSITIVE SPORTING EXPERIENCES KEY FOR CHILDREN’S DEVELOPMENT

13th October 2010 - NEW HANDBOOKS EXPLAIN MANAGING RISK IN SPORT AND RECREATION


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