Environmental contamination in an Australian mining community and potential influences on early childhood health and behavioural outcomes

Chenyin Dong, Mark Patrick Taylor*, Louise Jane Kristensen, Sammy Zahran

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Arsenic, cadmium and lead in aerosols, dusts and surface soils from Australia's oldest continuous lead mining town of Broken Hill were compared to standardised national childhood developmental (year 1) and education performance measures (years 3,5,7,9). Contaminants close to mining operations were elevated with maximum lead levels in soil: 8900 mg/kg; dust wipe: 86,061 μg/m2; dust deposition: 2950 μg/m2/day; aerosols: 0.707 μg/m3. The proportion of children from Broken Hill central, the area with the highest environmental contamination, presented with vulnerabilities in two or more developmental areas at 2.6 times the national average. Compared with other school catchments of Broken Hill, children in years 3 and 5 from the most contaminated school catchment returned consistently the lowest educational scores. By contrast, children living and attending schools associated with lower environmental contamination levels recorded higher school scores and lower developmental vulnerabilities. Similar results were identified in Australia's two other major lead mining and smelting cities of Port Pirie and Mount Isa.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)345-356
    Number of pages12
    JournalEnvironmental Pollution
    Volume207
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015

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