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Playcentre blood tests offer reassurance

AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL

MEDIA RELEASE

20 April 2006


Playcentre blood tests offer reassurance

Auckland City is pleased that results from blood tests for children attending the Auckland Central Playcentre show no elevated levels of lead in their systems.

Blood samples were obtained from children from the playcentre after soil testing revealed elevated levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including benzo-a-pyrene at the Freeman’s Bay site.

Auckland City’s Deputy Mayor, Dr Bruce Hucker, says the parents who volunteered their children for testing will be thrilled the results show lead levels within the normal range.

“These results will be a relief and a real comfort for parents.

“It is tangible proof that the risk of exposure to contaminants at this site has been low for these children and that’s something we can all be grateful for.

“I’m pleased the council could offer parents the opportunity to have their children blood tested, so that they now have that extra level of reassurance,” Dr Hucker says.

A spokesperson for the Playcentre Association, Ruth Connor, says Auckland Central Playcentre parents will be heartened by the blood test results.

“The fact that all the blood tests have come in low is just another reassurance for parents. They now know that although there is not a zero risk, it is obviously quite low for these children.

“I think the parents will be really pleased with these results and with the support that they have had from the council throughout this time,” Ms Connor says.

The blood lead tests were done because lead is considered to be a good ‘marker’ for benzo-a-pyrene.

Both chemicals are absorbed into the body the same way and a high lead level in the blood can indicate that children may also have higher levels of benzo-a-pyrene in their systems.

All of the children tested had blood lead levels below 10 micrograms per decilitre of blood. The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) usually investigates when children have blood lead levels above 15 micrograms per decilitre of blood. The APRS has been advised of the results.

Blood tests have also been carried out on children who attend the Onehunga Playcentre and will soon be done on children at Barnardos Early Learning Centre in Freeman’s Bay.

Parents of 90 children attending Ferndale Kindergarten in Mt Albert have been asked to consider volunteering their children for blood tests.

Auckland City contractors have now completed remediation works at the Auckland Central Playcentre site and landscaping work is underway.

ENDS

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