04 December 2008
An independent toxicologist has begun analyzing information prepared by a specialised team investigating concerns by Rosebery residents about their health and living environment.
A project team, led by Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr Chrissie Pickin, is investigating complaints by residents at several Rosebery properties.
The project team includes officers representing the EPA and Public Health and will report to the Director of Public Health, Dr Roscoe Taylor, and Warren Jones, the Director of Tasmania's Environment Protection Authority.
"Members of the project team have been conducting extensive investigations over the past few weeks to help determine exactly what is going on," Dr Taylor said.
"These investigations have been thorough and have included arranging health assessments for the residents as well as further soil and water testing.
"Our investigations are continuing and as part of this process, we are keen to bring in the knowledge of independent toxicologist, Professor Brian Priestly."
Dr Taylor said Professor Priestly has been provided with extensive information for analysis and has been called upon to provide detailed advice.
Professor Priestly is the Director of the Australian Centre for Human Health Risk Assessment and is a highly regarded expert in toxicology and human health risk assessment.
As part of his investigation, Professor Priestly will visit Rosebery next week to inspect sites and he will be hoping to talk with the concerned residents.
Dr Pickin said the residents at Rosebery had been updated regularly about the progress of the investigations.
"As part of the investigations, the project team is exploring potential exposure pathways or possible ways by which any contaminants in the soil could possibly enter the body," Dr Pickin said.
"It is standard practice to also assess other ways the metals/elements of concern might enter the bodies of the residents."
"This requires the residents to answer a range of more detailed questions about possible exposures and allowing inspection of premises for such things as cooking utensils.
"The investigation is not yet at a stage where conclusions about a link between the soil and water samples and the health conditions of the residents can be made."
"Two of the residents involved have now had tests at Launceston and Burnie and we are hoping to continue working with other residents to ensure these tests are completed quickly.
"The results of this testing will be forwarded on the toxicologist if the residents give their consent," Dr Pickin said.
EPA Director Warren Jones said the soil and water tests have been carried out in residents' yards and in nearby public areas.
"We have collected samples of both surface and subsurface soils and water from springs or seeps and stormwater," Mr Jones said.
"Officers have also contacted the West Coast Council to collect any available information about the history of the residences and examined a doctoral thesis on groundwater in the area."
Mr Jones said this information will assist the Director of Public Health in determining if there is a link between environmental conditions and health.
The results of the tests and other information are currently being interpreted and will be provided to the residents shortly.