frequently asked questions
TLAP recognises that there are certain weather conditions (for example hot dry windy days or wind coming from a northerly direction) that can increase the amount of lead-borne dust in the community and that the emissions profile of the lead smelter is variable.
TLAP makes adjustments to its program of activities in response to changes in the local environment. The approach to cleaning is streamlined and focussed, responding in real time to weather events, fugitive emissions episodes on-site and community events alike.
The TLAP cleaning team have added more sites to the already full cleaning roster. Of note is the now regular cleaning of two fast-food chain playgrounds, the foreshore skate park and general environs of the recently developed foreshore picnic area adjacent the boat ramp.
The team is not just highly visible in the community by way of is fleet of cleaning appliances in operation around the city, it is also actively involved in a wide array of additional activities and initiatives, all aimed at reducing lead exposure pathways.
The following list demonstrates the range of activities:
- TLAP door/floor mat exchange and cleaning regime – All mats in early learning and education facilities are now regularly vacuumed and pressure washed (at a specially designated bay at the nursery complex) to remove all sand and other contaminants.
- Targeted removal of lead pots from the community (10 in this year).
- Donations and TLAP Nursery Plants to the wider community, including organisations such as Riding for the Disabled, Housing SA, Nyrstar, Senior Citizens club – approximately 1000 plants.
- Ongoing management of saltbush in Rail Corridor as a dust control measure – pruning of planted area to reduce growth below 1 metre. Growth of saltbush in corridor has exceeded expectations.
- Increased cleaning at Early Learning Centres to include washing dust from building surfaces and window ledges where dust and contaminants has accumulated.
- Greening projects with Primary Schools.
- In support of the TLAP Nutrition program the Clean Team, whilst in the community, distribute grocery cards to those enrolled in the program as and when required. This year alone the program has invested approximately $40,000 in breakfast programs in Port Pirie schools and early learning centres.
- Collaboration with John Pirie Secondary School to provide work experience and learning opportunities for school students.
- Collaboration with Environmental Health Centre and Housing SA to apply mulch/dust suppression to mitigate dust migration into homes with high dust risk.
- Identification of dust zones for dust suppression treatment – Florence street carpark, Woodward Park traffic areas, and unsealed streets.
High lead-in-air results in Port Pirie are strongly influenced by north-west to north-east winds.
The strong north/north-west winds blow across the smelter, picking up emissions and lead dust on the way, then deposit them predominantly in the south and south-east areas of the city. This is where the highest proportion of children with elevated blood lead levels live.
The strongest north/north-west winds are most prevalent in winter, so higher lead-in-air results are experienced then. There is also a big difference in wind direction and wind speed during the day and at night.
It’s best not to do this on windy days when there may be more dust in the air, nor overnight when moisture may be present (which encourages dust to settle on clothing).
Yes, it’s certainly safe for children to play outdoors. Personal hygiene – like not letting them put dirty fingers or toys in their mouths – will help minimise any exposure. Regular hand washing as soon as children come indoors, and before they eat, is essential. Washing down outside toys and play equipment also helps to reduce exposure. Please also refer to the SA Health website for information on protecting your baby during & after pregnancy in Port Pirie.
Please download ‘Lead and Homegrown produce in Port Pirie’ fact sheet for further information.
If you have any concerns about lead levels in your soil, contact the Environmental Health Centre on (08) 8638 4100 to discuss those concerns. The Environmental Health Centre can arrange to have your soil tested if it’s thought to be necessary.
- By planting plenty of plants, ground covers and grass
- By using natural materials like mulch and pine chips
- By installing man-made substances like pavers and concrete, which can be washed down rather than swept or cleaned with a blower vac.
- Through regular watering
For more detailed information on Gardening in Port Pirie view the SA Health website.
It’s recommended you cover sandpits when not in use, not simply to reduce contamination from lead, but also to prevent animals using it as a toilet!
Recommended cover options are reinforced canvas, vinyl or polymesh mesh, also wood. Another easy option is a clam shell which comes with its own lid.
For more information please refer to the Lead Smart guidelines for Property Owners Fact Sheet (includes reference to rainwater).
Please refer to the SA Health website to find out more about how lead gets into the blood.
Blood lead levels above 10 micrograms per decilitre can interfere with the development of internal organs, in particular the central nervous system.
Babies and young children are particularly affected because their bodies are developing so rapidly.
Intellectual performance and general behaviour appear to be the most common and damaging effects of lead exposure.