Lead is a cheap and useful metal found frequently in the environment and in many products. While it has been phased out of many consumer products due to its toxicity and potential impact upon human health and the environment, lead remains a significant legacy in the community.
Potential sources of lead in and around your home and workplace
- interior and exterior paint in homes built before 1970
- lead dust in ceiling cavities, carpets, furniture and in other places where dust tends to accumulate, and in the soil around the home – some of this dust may be from before the 1980s when petrol contained high levels of lead
- lead fumes from the use of tools such as a heat gun or soldering iron to heat up a lead surface
- lead water pipes, leadlight windows, PVC products, lead sheeting and paints in various products
- workers in a lead industry may bring dust home on clothes or tools which can contaminate your house and family
- hobbies involving working with lead or lead paint can also accidently expose you or others to lead.
The following EPA fact sheets series will provide general guidance to people encountering lead in their environment.
The NSW EPA lead fact sheet series 2016
The advice in this series is based on the most recent research available. We recommend that you follow this advice to minimise the risks of exposure to lead in the home. We cannot guarantee that it will eliminate all risks as circumstances vary depending on the history of the house, its condition, the area to be painted and other factors.
Important lead links
General lead information
- Lead exposure in children: information prepared by NSW Health Department on the health risks of lead exposure focused on children.
- Lead information: the Australian Department of the Environment website provides information relating to lead and various topics such as renovation, your health, marine paints, pottery and recreational activities, as well as a guide to renovating your home safe from lead risk.
- Lead in house paint: the Australian Department of the Environment website provides information on lead in house paint including the dangers, how to avoid lead risk and what is being done.
- The Lead Education and Abatement Design Group: The LEAD group provides a number of services both nationally and internationally including telephone advice, awareness raising, the development of a ceiling dust removal industry in Australia, the development of a comprehensive lead library and assisting in lead environmental policy development.
- US EPA lead information: The US EPA lead website provides overseas information on lead issues, science and technology as well as overseas laws and regulations.
- Lead Safe World www.leadsafeworld.com/shop
- Managing individual exposure to lead in Australia: The Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council guide for health practitioners to manage individual exposure to lead.
- Lead in Broken Hill The Broken Hill Environmental Lead Program, in partnership with NSW Health and the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), has developed this website to let Broken Hill people know about the local lead issue, how and where children get exposed to lead, things carers and children can do to minimise lead exposure, and the importance of blood lead screening for children under five.
Lead risk when renovating your home
Lead risk in the workplace
Lead risk at work: The SafeWork NSW website provides information regarding exposure to lead in your workplace.
Lead Safety training videos
The National Painting and Decorating Institute have developed a series of lead safety training videos that include:
Lead Poisoning: a silent epidemic: the ABC radio background briefing program on lead poisoning during an increase in home renovations during the Queensland floods in 2012.
The NSW EPA and NSW Health promote lead safety awareness to reduce lead exposure, especially in young children. For more information on community contamination and the disposal of wastes, contact your nearest EPA office or phone Environment Line on 131 555.
For information about how lead can harm children's health, contact your local Public Health Unit, NSW Health. Telephone numbers can be found under 'Health' in the White Pages or telephone NSW Health on (02) 9391 9000.
The NSW EPA would like to acknowledge the contribution of the following organisations in preparing and reviewing the lead fact sheets and booklets.
- The LEAD Group
- NSW Health
- SafeWork NSW
- Broken Hill Environmental Lead Centre
- Lead Expert Working Group Boolaroo
- Master Painters NSW
- Australian Paint Manufacturers Association
- Aussie Painters Network
- Macquarie University
- TAFE NSW.
Page last updated: 13 October 2016