If you want a blood lead test you will have to wait until August, as more than 900 people have scrambled for an examination following the contaminated water scare.

Ko Wing-man, Secretary for Food and Health, announced that blood test appointments have been fully booked until the end of the month. He said that the Department of Health had received 1,690 calls for help and had arranged for 924 individuals to take blood tests, as of 9pm on Sunday.

Ko Wing-man (centre) at a press conference on the excessive lead content in drinking water. Photo. GovHK.
Ko Wing-man (centre) at a press conference on the excessive lead content in drinking water. Photo. GovHK.

In a Commercial Radio interview on Sunday, Ko said that the Hospital Authority’s laboratories could only handle 300 blood tests a week. He said if more housing estates required blood tests they might take several months.

Ko’s comments came a week after the government confirmed that lead concentrations in Kai Ching Estate tap water exceeded World Health Organisation standards. Lead contamination was later reported at Kwai Luen Estate, Shui Chuen O Estate and Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate.

The government released the first batch of blood test results from nine residents of Kai Ching Estate last Saturday. The blood lead levels of all nine samples were normal and posed “no significant health risk.”

Ko said that tests to verify the causation link between drinking water and excessive blood lead levels can be carried out when “more and more blood lead test results” are released. He explained that if lead isotopes in the blood and water samples in question match, there is a correlation between the two.

He added that he would ask residents with excessive lead blood levels if they had “other means of coming in contact with lead.”

Ko pointed out that residents should not carry out blood lead tests on their own, and should refrain from using hair and urine as samples for tests. He said that tests must be executed by medical professionals as blood sampling and laboratory processes are complicated.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Last Friday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that the government would set up an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the issue of lead contamination in the water supply at public housing estates.

Paul Benedict Lee is an undergraduate law student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Paul has previously contributed to HK Magazine and Radio Television Hong Kong, covering issues ranging from local heritage conservation to arts features. He has also worked as a legal intern at local human rights firm Daly & Associates.