The first comprehensive scientific reports on children affected by lead poisoning at Mt Isa have confirmed that they suffer permanent brain injuries with low levels of intellectual functioning.
Law firm Slater and Gordon commissioned the studies on five children whose families are taking legal action against mining giant Xstrata, its subsidiary Mount Isa Mines Ltd, Mt Isa City Council and the State of Queensland.
Slater and Gordon lawyer Damian Scattini says the first two reports, by US neuroscience expert Theodore Lidsky of City University in New York, have been very distressing.
“The reports confirm the parents’ worst fears: that their children are intellectually impaired with a history indicative of brain injury,” he said.
“Professor Lidsky concludes that lead poisoning is the only neuro-developmental risk factor in their background.
“Their brain injury is permanent, and functional recovery will not occur as they grow older. Their educational prognosis is grim.”
Bethany Sanders and Sidney Body both had high levels of lead in their blood, well in excess of international safety limits, after exposure to air-borne dust.
Damian Scattini says it is time for Mt Isa authorities to stop pretending that wiping down dusty surfaces with a damp cloth is enough to protect children in the town.
“Lead has had a devastating effect on the children we represent – and many, many others,” he said.
“It is time that Xstrata, Queensland Health and some locals in Mt Isa faced up to reality – the lead in Mt Isa is harming the town’s children.
“The parents who have stood up on this issue should be applauded for their courage, rather than being ostracised for their supposed disloyalty to the town.”
Four of the five families represented by Slater and Gordon have left Mt Isa for their children’s welfare.