Lead found at ANU campus childcare centre

Image: ANU

Image: ANU

High levels of lead have been discovered at Australian National University’s (ANU) Heritage Early Childhood Centre, prompting action by the university and ACT Health to ensure the children’s safety.

The university found elevated levels of lead contained in the lead-based paint in the childhood centre’s play area.

It contacted the Health Protection Service at ACT Health and after assessments by a team of environmental and health professionals, ACT Health confirmed there were no ongoing risks of harm to the children from lead exposure.

ANU vice chancellor professor Brian Schmidt said the children’s parents were notified and invited to discuss any of their concerns with health officials at one of three forums the university if holding this week.

“Our priority is the health and safety of the children at the Childcare centre and everyone who works, studies and visits the ANU campus,” Schmidt said.

“We have taken immediate action to clean up the area and remove any risk to our community.”

The lead discovery came after a parent asked the university to check a nearby vacant building (I Block). ANU then contacted an environmental consultant to assess all childcare centres at the university, with Heritage Early Childhood Centre the only one to have been found with elevated lead levels.

ACT chief health officer Dr Paul Kelly said parents or guardians who are concerned may consider talking to their general practitioner about having their child’s blood level tested.  

Paint containing lead had been used in many Australian buildings, including at ANU before 1970.