lead is cheap and useful, it is found in many products and in many
places in the environment. Lead can affect anybody, but children
under the age of four and pregnant women are most at risk. Lead can
affect children by causing learning and attention problems, hearing
loss, slowed growth and behaviour problems.
can affect adults too. Low levels of exposure can cause joint and
muscle pain, high blood pressure and infertility. Higher levels can
cause memory loss, nerve problems and, at very high levels, fits.
gets into our bodies when we breathe in lead dust and fumes in air,
or if we eat food or drink water that contains lead. Children can
rapidly pick up lead through normal hand to mouth activity.
Small amounts can gradually build up in the body and cause health
DOES LEAD DUST COME FROM?
older Australian homes and buildings have lead dust in their ceiling
cavities, in wall cavities and under the floor. This dust has built
up over many years from many sources, including renovations in your
home or nearby, industrial pollution, exhaust from cars using leaded
petrol, and fumes from burning wood or coal. The breakdown of old
lead paint is an important source of dust in pre 1970 houses.
DUST CAN CONTAMINATE YOUR HOUSE
dust in your roof void does not pose a risk if ceilings, cornices and
ceiling roses are in good repair. In fact, the dust is better left
untouched if there is no leakage into living spaces.
home maintenance or renovation activities may disturb dust and
increase the risk of contaminating your living areas. These
ceilings or cavity walls
- adding a
second storey extension
- putting in an
attic ladder or skylight
insulation or new electrical wiring
- working in the
ceiling cavity for any reason.
trails of dust near cracks or cornices are trouble signs. Decorative
ceiling roses with air vents can also let dust in. Water damage may
cause ceilings to crack or collapse.
THE DUST FOR LEAD
dust in pre 1970 houses contains lead unless tests prove
otherwise. To be sure, hire a professional lead assessor or carefully
collect samples yourself and have them tested by a laboratory.
lead dust removed from your house
women, children and pets should move out until the cleanup is
finished or stay away from the work area.
Do it yourself
ceiling dust removal is not recommended it's dirty and
dangerous and requires special equipment. Hire a professional (see
'How to get advice', below). If you do remove the dust yourself, do
precautions to ensure dust does not enter living areas through the
access hole into the ceiling.
an AS 1716 approved respirator fitted with P1 (dust) or P2
(dust and fumes) filters. Simple paper masks offer no protection
against very fine dust. Follow manufacturer's instructions to ensure
the mask fits properly.
protective clothing (long sleeves and pants) that does not catch dust
or flakes in pockets or cuffs. Disposable overalls and plastic boot
covers are a good idea.
plastic under the access hole and cover or move soft furnishings,
carpets, curtains etc in the room.
out for electrical wires and take care not to fall through the
a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner, not a
domestic vacuum cleaner. HEPA vacuum cleaners are available for hire.
hands and face before meals, and shower and change clothes when you
finish work. If you smoke, don't smoke or carry cigarettes in the
work area, as you can breathe in lead dust which settles
them. Wash hands before smoking to stop lead entering your mouth.
work clothes separately from all other clothes using a phosphate
detergent (eg, liquid sugar soap). Rinse the washing machine
you've finished, wipe all hard surfaces (including window sills,
skirting boards and picture rails) and any furniture with a damp
cloth and a highphosphate detergent.
the collected dust in heavy duty plastic bags. Dispose of the
bags at an approved waste facility.
your doctor if you want to know more about blood tests or the effects
of lead on health.