26 September 2023

School bottles water after lead alert

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Queensland Health has announced that bottled water and free voluntary blood tests are being provided to children and staff at Yarrabah educational facilities after testing detected lead in the water.

Chief Health Officer, John Gerrard said appropriate and precautionary measures were being taken, based on the preliminary results of water samples at Yarrabah State School’s primary and secondary campuses and the kindergarten.

“Queensland Health, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service, the Department of Education, and Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council are working closely to conduct further tests to determine the sources of contamination and if any rectification works are necessary,” Dr Gerrard said.

“While health advice indicates a low risk of exposure to lead at all three sites, the health and wellbeing of children and teaching staff is being prioritised.”

He said the immediate health risks were minimal, but out of an abundance of caution, children and staff at Yarrabah’s kindergarten, and primary and secondary schools would use bottled water for drinking until Queensland Health was certain supplies were safe.

“While this is understandably concerning for the community, it is still safe for children and staff to use the water for non-drinking purposes,” Dr Gerrard said

“Free blood testing will also be made available for staff and children, and anyone in Yarrabah who is concerned.”

He said it was safe for the broader community to continue consuming the town’s water supply provided taps used for drinking water were flushed daily.

Ingestion of lead can lead to health problems, with children and unborn babies more affected than adults. Physical contact with lead does not present a health risk.

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