NHMRC Lead Working Committee (2012 - 2015)

Terms of Reference

Management of elevated blood lead levels remains an important issue requiring a specialist Working Committee to provide technical and jurisdictional advice and expertise to the NHMRC.

The Lead Working Committee will:

  • Advise on the development of information on managing individual exposure to lead in Australia (for general practitioners, paediatricians and public health/environmental health practitioners).
  • Advise on the currency of the NHMRC Information Paper—An Information Paper for Practitioners and Policy Makers 2009 and NHMRC Public Statement 2009 in light of new evidence on safe blood lead levels.
  • Consider international reports on strategies to reduce blood lead levels.
  • Identify gaps in evidence-based public policy relating to management of high blood lead levels.
  • Provide advice on the translation of research findings into best practice for managing high blood lead levels.
  • Advise on how to effectively engage relevant stakeholders i.e. State/Territory Departments of Health, and general practitioners and paediatricians.
  • Report to the Council of NHMRC, through the Prevention and Community Health Committee.

Appointments to the Working Committee commenced on 1 December 2012 and conclude on 30 November 2015.

Member Information and Declaration of Interest

Adjunct Associate Professor Sophie Dwyer PSM (Chair)

Executive Director, Health Protection, Chief Health Officer Branch,
Queensland Health

Relevant Financial Activities:

  • Employed as Executive Director, Health Protection for Queensland Health, providing advice to the Minister for Health on lead related matters in Queensland. 

Relevant Professional and Organisational Experience:

Other Relationships or Activities: Nil


Associate Professor Peter Baghurst

Associate Professor, Discipline of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide

Former Head, Public Health Research Unit, Women's and Children's Hospital SA

Relevant Financial Activities:

  • Recipient of a NHMRC project grant (No. 399358, 2006, Lead, intelligence, and behavioural problems in children).

Relevant Professional and Organisational Experience:

  • Investigated (NHMRC funded study) the impact of lead pollution on the cognitive and behavioural development of children living in Broken Hill and Port Pirie.
  • Has been called upon as an independent expert witness (i.e. not on behalf of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital). Received payment on one occasion when required to produce a detailed report.
  • Has presented to specialist groups like Australasian Epidemiological Association; Public Health Association of Australia.

Other Relationships or Activities: Nil


Professor Brian Gulson

Emeritus Professor, Graduate School of the Environment, Macquarie University
Honorary Research Fellow, CSIRO

Relevant Financial Activities:

  • Has not received remuneration for lecturing activities in the last five years.

Relevant Professional and Organisational Experience:

  • Has received travel support to attend and present at conferences on the lead investigations undertaken at Esperance on behalf of WA Departments of Health and Environment and Conservation. The lead isotope analyses were made at CSIRO North Ryde and paid for by the agencies.
  • Has extensively published various articles relating to lead exposure since 1992, including research into lead toxicity, measurement of lead exposure, lead mobilisation in pregnancy, lead isotopes and source apportionment.

Other Relationships or Activities:

  • Head of the Technical Advisory Board of the LEAD Group and provides regular advice, including expert advice on lead, on their behalf.

Ms Rosalind Harrison

Toxicologist, Public and Environmental Health Service,
Department of Health and Human Services (Tasmania)

Relevant Financial Activities:

  • Employed by the Department of Health and Human Services (Tasmania) in the Public and Environmental Health Service.

Relevant Professional and Organisational Experience:

  • In current role provides scientific and policy advice on toxicological matters relating to the public and environmental health aspects of hazardous substances (including lead) in the general environment including soil, water, air and food.
  • Ensures hazardous substances (including lead) are assessed, reviewed, reported and managed in a manner such that unacceptable public health risks do not occur. This involves providing information to other government departments, industry, and the community, usually through written correspondence or face-to-face meetings.
  • Contributes to the preparation of written reports on the health impacts and risk assessment of environmental health hazards (including lead).
  • Has published reports on lead in The LEAD Action news and contributed to a factsheet on managing soil contamination.

Other Relationships or Activities: Nil


Dr Martin Matisons

Principal Toxicologist, Environmental Health Directorate,
WA Department of Health

Relevant Financial Activities:

  • Paid employment as a public servant.

Relevant Professional and Organisational Experience:

  • In his role for WA Department of Health, Dr Matisons delivers lectures and presentations at schools (including tertiary level) and within the community, and liaises with industry, Government Departments and the public regarding lead exposure.
  • Research on lead exposure has been published and submitted to peer-reviewed journals.
  • Has been an expert witness on a variety of issues, including advice on lead, in the Magistrates Court and the State Administrative Tribunal (in role as public servant).
  • Has responsibility for various publications and policies relating to lead, including Department of Health Policy on Lead Levels in Children and Department of Health Procedures for investigating Lead Poisoning Notifications.
  • Provides lead exposure advice to medical practitioners, consumer affairs and the general community.
  • Investigates lead poisoning notifications, animal lead residues in food issues, and lead contaminated sites.
  • WA Department of Health representative on Esperance Clean-up and Recovery Committee and Northampton Lead Inter-Agency Committee.

Other Relationships or Activities: Nil


Ms Stephanie Newell

Consumer Representative

Relevant Financial Activities: Nil

Relevant Professional and Organisational Experience: Expertise in consumer issues and consumer engagement

Other Relationships or Activities: Has previously been a member of Safety Institute of Australia due to Occupational Health and Safety qualifications.


Dr David Simon

Director, Scientific Services, Public Health Services, SA Health

Relevant Financial Activities:

  • Employed by SA Health as a public health service provider and regulator; mandated to deal with the health aspects of lead exposure.
  • Has received travel reimbursement to conferences and seminars on various aspects of environmental health.
  • Attends meetings with Nyrstar Pty Ltd (an integrated mining and metals business with an interest in zinc and lead) and other stakeholders where lunch may be provided.

Relevant Professional and Organisational Experience:

  • Currently manages environmental health aspects of air, soil and water, regulation of water and chemicals, and provision of expert health risk assessments and risk communication.
  • Manages a team that examines the Port Pirie smelter emissions. Their mandate is to provide evidence based strategies to County Health SA and other stakeholders for the purposes of reducing exposure in Port Pirie to various pollutants including lead.
  • Provides direct scientific expert advice to this section, and their stakeholders which includes Nyrstar Smelter, Port Pirie Regional Council, the EPA, the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE), and the public which includes the community action group CANdo (based in Port Pirie) on lead exposure, health effects and mitigation of lead exposure, usually concerning Port Pirie, but may include other industrial sites.
  • Manages a section devoted to toxicology who may deal with lead in non-Port Pirie environments, for example episodic elevated levels of lead found by GPs.
  • Presents lectures and seminars on lead and toxicology to tertiary institutions, schools and medical community and the general community.
  • Attendance at conferences, lectures and seminars are part of employment with SA Health and therefore no remuneration is provided.
  • Responsible for a number of documents and publications relating to lead including peer reviewed journal articles; education material for Port Pirie exposed children (Country Health SA); fact sheets on lead, published on SA Health website; exposure guidelines and strategies for Port Pirie (Country Health SA); NHMRC guidelines for dealing with episodic exposure to lead; guidelines for undertaking an environmental assessment to ascertain lead exposure potentials (SA Health).

Other Relationships or Activities: Nil


Dr Simon Slota Kan

Senior Rural Medical Practitioner,
NT Department of Health

Relevant Financial Activities:

  • Employed by the Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria.

Relevant Professional and Organisational Experience:

  • Current role is with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Regulation, Health Protection and Emergency Management.
  • Previous position was as the Senior Rural Medical Practitioner with NT Health which involved providing ad hoc advice to the Environmental Health Unit NT on Water Quality and occasionally high blood lead level investigations.
  • Previous position was as the Senior Medical Advisor in the Environmental Health Unit of the Victorian Department of Health. Supported the Blood Lead notification and investigation systems in Victoria, provided expert advice and liaison including discussions with industry, supporting the role of the blood lead notification system. This included providing advice to other government agencies particularly the Environment Protection Authority Victoria. The role required occasional media briefings, presentations to stakeholders and the public.

Other Relationships or Activities: Nil


Professor Wayne Smith

Director, Environmental Health Branch,
NSW Health

Relevant Financial Activities: Nil

Relevant Professional and Organisational Experience:

  • Current role entails providing advice to the NSW Minister for Health on all matters pertinent to Environmental Health, including lead. It is not a regulatory role, but involves advising the Department of Planning and Infrastructure on development applications that may include lead (such as mining applications). The role sometimes includes meeting with industry and other stakeholders either with or on behalf of the NSW Minister. Attendance and contribution to the discussion on environmental health matters at lectures, seminars and conferences, as part of his NSW Health role (although this rarely occurs on the subject of lead).
  • Responsible for documents and publications relating to lead, including the NSW Health Factsheet: Lead Exposure in Children.

Other Relationships or Activities: Nil

Member until 20 March 2015.


Dr Neil Wigg PSM

Retired. (Formerly) Associate Professor, Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health,
University of Queensland

Relevant Financial Activities: Nil

Relevant Professional and Organisational Experience:

  • Current position does not require any functions in relation to lead. Dr Wigg is occasionally asked to provide expert clinical advice regarding specific children who have experienced lead exposure.
  • Presents lectures and seminars on health effects of lead to medical audiences, for example in May 2011 gave an invited presentation on the topic "The impact of environmental lead exposure on children's development" at the UMEMPS (Union of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Pediatric Societies) Congress in Jordan. No remuneration was received for this presentation.
  • Conducts teaching sessions on lead epidemiology for specialist trainees.
  • Occasionally provides expert clinical advice regarding specific children who have experienced lead exposure.
  • Has published findings related to Port Pirie Lead Study (Principal Investigator on developmental measurements).

Other Relationships or Activities: Nil


Ms Vikki Lynch

Advisor, Health Risk Management, Environmental Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria

Relevant Financial Activities:

  • Employed by a state health agency; senior policy advisor for environmental health practice, and environmental emergency planning.

Relevant Professional and Organisational Experience:
Publications:

  • Provided scientific expertise on behalf of Victorian Department of Human Services, for J Chan, M Sim, R Golec & A. Forbes (2000) Predictors of lead absorption in children of lead process workers, Occupational Medicine, 50(6) pp 398-405.
  • Provided comment, on behalf of Victorian Department of Human Services, for Child Health Screening and Surveillance: a Critical Review of the Evidence (Endorsed 15 March 2002) – Report prepared by Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
  • Related guidelines/standards etc.
  • Responsible for providing technical and risk communication advice in a number of publications relating to lead.

Other:

  • Participation in a number of working groups/committees in the area of environmental health.
  • Provision of technical advice, in capacity as Advisor, Health Risk Management, on lead and health and issues relating to land contamination.
  • Oversight of lead policy issues for Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

Other Relationships or Activities: Nil


Former Members

Professor Michael Moore

Professor Michael Moore was a member of the Lead Working Committee from 1 December 2012 until his death in August 2014. Professor Moore was an Emeritus Professor of Toxicology at the University of Queensland and provided expert advice to the NHMRC in its review of the health effects of lead.