The Scafell Project – Introduction

Logic

A lead poisoning prevention (LPP) stakeholder observed that screening children for lead would be pivotal in the UK. If even limited screening can be introduced, parents would become aware of lead toxicity. They will then start asking questions about the source of the lead exposure which, hopefully, would lead to more action and information from relevant government agencies, trade organisations and businesses.

There may be concerns about a panic response. To prepare for this we should encourage the introduction of a web site and help line, as is provided in the USA, and repeat the message that lead poisoning is entirely preventable.

Timing

There may be additional difficulties in progressing this project during the COVID-19 pandemic. Public Health England (PHE) staff have been reallocated from lead related initiatives to work on COVID-19 and the PHE is to be re-organised into a new agency called National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP). This could perhaps result in the next review by the NSC being pushed back, but there is no news about this yet.

Scope

Health Services in the UK are devolved to the individual countries. This scope of this project will be England, initially.

The initial age group focus would be from 1-4 years, inclusive, because this is where most elevated BLCs were reported by the passive Lead Exposure in Children Surveillance System (LEICSS).

Project Naming

Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England. There is a mountain to climb to achieve the project mission, but Scafell Pike is not inaccessible.

The name “Scafell Project” has been used previously for an initiative regarding prolific and priority offenders. This is nothing to do with screening, except that there is evidence that lead exposure can lead to crime (Boutwell et al, 2017, Dietrich et al, 2001, Taylor et al, 2016).