Written Answers. - Lead Exposure.

Toddy O'Sullivan


45 Mr. T. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment if he will give details of the studies which are being undertaken at present in his Department; the steps he is proposing to take to reduce lead exposure from petrol, water and industrial emissions and other sources; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

While no studies relating to lead and the environment are currently being undertaken on a formal basis, a range of measures is being pursued to prevent, control and monitor environmental pollution arising from lead emissions. These include; national air quality standards for lead, enforceable through the Air Pollution Act, controls on the lead content of petrol which can be marketed and the provision of incentives to encourage increased use of unleaded petrol, the application of strict quality standards to all water supplies intended for human consumption, including standards applying to lead content, controls of industrial and other emissions and discharges by means of licensing and other provisions under the Air Pollution and Water Pollution Acts, the strengthening of controls provided for in the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992 and the prohibition on the use of lead in jointing techniques for pipes under the Building Regulations, 1991.

In addition to the foregoing measures, controls in relation to other sources are provided for by other Ministers; for example I understand that the Minister for Health has made regulations which lay down limits for lead in foods and beverages, and that regulations have been made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce relating to the safety of toys.

Michael Bell


50 Mr. Bell asked the Minister for the Environment if, having regard to the press release of 11 March 1992, issued by the Minister for Finance, relating to guidelines for semi-State bodies and to the fact that the Official Secrets Act applies to all citizens of the State, he will outline whether there is in existence codes of conduct or legislative provisions in relation to the activities of the local government officials and members of local authorities; if he will give details of (a) the essential matters contained therein, (b) the responsibility of local government officials and members of local authorities acting on boards, authorities or companies established under statute or the Companies Acts and (c) the date they were last updated; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

A non-statutory code of conduct for local authority officers is in place since 1960. The essential matters contained in the code include (i) principles governing the placing of contracts and the purchase or sale of goods, (ii) official secrecy requirements, (iii) acceptance of gifts and hospitality, and (iv) requirements relating to courtesy and impartiality. The code is at present being reviewed with a view to the issue of an updated code as soon as possible. In addition to the non-statutory code, the Local Government (Officers) Regulations, 1984 contain relevant provisions relating to outside occupations and private practice and the Local Government (Planning and Development) Acts contain provisions relating to the declaration of interests by the holders of certain local authority offices and members of planning authorities. These latter provisions also relate to members and staff of An Bord Pleanála.

With regard to persons who are board members of State Bodies under the aegis of my Department, I wrote on 31 March 1992 to the chairman of these bodies enclosing guidelines in regard to codes of conduct and related matters and requesting that they ensure that the guidelines are implemented.