Trail keeps its pulse on new blood-lead guidelines

New standards set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention may have an impact on Canadian guidelines for blood-lead levels in Trail.

A program dedicated to lowering blood-lead levels in Trail children has its work cut out if new standards set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has any impact on Canadian guidelines.

The American organization that sets public health policy and practice on acceptable lead levels has increased its national standards to a blood-lead level of five micrograms per deciliter of blood (mg/dl), down from 10.

Health Canada has yet to follow suit but Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs, chair of the Trail Health and Environment Committee, says he suspects it won’t be long.

“We do recognize the important research that supports the development of new blood-lead guidelines and have begun to review the implications for Trail so that our programs can be adjusted,” he said. “We are working right now to continue to reduce blood-lead levels in children in Trail and when the new guidelines are issued, we expect it will simply reinforce our efforts in that direction.”

The community program – delivered by Teck, Interior Health and the Ministry of Environment – noticed in 2010 that blood-lead levels in Trail area toddlers living near Teck Trail Operations stopped improving and plans for further decreases were focused through more cuts to smelter emissions as well as community management efforts.

The program increased its standards in 2011, changing the acceptable target-range to 4-mg/dl.

In their latest report, “Fall 2011 Blood Lead Results,” the percentage of children aged six months to three years in Trail and Rivervale tested with a microgram of lead per deciliter of blood lower than the national standard of 10 was 92 per cent – three per cent less than the 95 per cent sought and two per cent better than 2010.

Trail councillor Gord DeRosa, committee member, said the city won’t be delayed for recommendations from higher up and will lead by example.

“I don’t think the Trail Health and Environment Committee will wait for Health Canada to set the guidelines, given the fact it’s already been demonstrated … that it should be cut from 10 to five,” he said.