Lead is Harmful
Lead in its natural form is a soft, bluish-white metal. It remains in the environment indefinitely and it has been recognised as a toxic substance to humans since the second century BC. It enters the body directly through the air we breathe and indirectly through the food we eat and water we drink.
Lead has been used in the building industry as a pigment in paint, in walls to prevent rising damp, as roof flashing, in waste pipes and in the joining of copper tubes. Because of the health risks associated with lead, its use has been phased out.
Most residential properties in North Sydney were built before lead paint was phased out in 1970 and are expected to contain significant amounts of lead.
Symptoms of lead exposure are difficult to recognise and most children show no outward symptoms.
Contact your family doctor if you think you or your child has been exposed to lead.
How to Lessen the Lead Risk in your Home & Garden
Lead in the Home
The greatest risk of lead contamination to you and your children is through exposure to lead paint and dust containing lead. Lead is most likely to become a problem when it is disturbed, particularly during renovations. You can take some simple steps to reduce the risk of exposure to lead when renovating your home.
Is your family at risk?
Lead in the Garden
Apart from several unique geological areas where natural lead levels in soil may be elevated, the natural background level of lead in NSW soil is comparable to worldwide background levels. Soil may become contaminated through historical industries, historical or contemporary uses of lead or current unsafe lead management practices.
Since lead does not dissipate, biodegrade or decay, lead pollution deposited into soil and dust remains a potential source of lead exposure.
You can take some simple steps to reduce the risk of exposing your family to lead in the garden:
- Short of removing the soil, use mulch or groundcover plants as an effective barrier to reduce lead exposure.
- Wash your hands carefully after being in the garden and teach your children to wash their hands after playing in the garden.
- Always wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating or storing. Some leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, silver beet and spinach collect lead dust more readily from the environment than other vegetables.
- Wash gardening clothes separately from other clothes and pay particular attention to removing or cleaning shoes when going into the house.
DO Remove all furniture before commencing work. Cover floor and other surfaces with plastic to collect paint debris.
DO NOT Don't let children come into contact with flaking paint.
DO Wear a respirator that meets the requirements of Australian Standards.
DO Use a wet cloth to dust all surfaces.
DO Hire an industrial vacuum cleaner with micron-sized filters to clean up before and after removing plastic covers.
DO If you live near a main road or industry, consider using a professional dust removalist to clean your roof cavity before proceeding with renovations that will encroach on the roof space.
DO Collect all dust and debris in a sealed container or plastic bag and dispose of it safely.
DO NOT Children, pets and pregnant women should not be near building activity.
How to Dispose of Lead Waste
Ceiling dust or other potentially lead-contaminated materials can be disposed of responsibly.