Blue Mountains City Council




 

Lead Safety

Buildings contain many different types of materials and associated chemicals. Unless managed and handled properly some of these can potentially affect the health of people doing renovations, their families, neighbours and the environment.


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. Being aware of the potential areas lead nay be present in a home and the hazards and risks involved will help renovators to minimise or eliminate their potential impact.


Potential sources of lead in and around your home and workplace

Common sources of lead in homes include:

  • 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 damp proof courses
  • lead water pipes or fittings, leadlight windows, PVC products, lead sheeting and paints in various products

Materials such as lead paint that are in good condition, not peeling or creating dust, or are sealed behind non-hazardous materials (eg. new paint) are relatively safe. If the material is in good condition LEAVE IT ALONE. Disturbing or removing it unsafely can create a greater hazard.


If old paint is not handled properly, lead dust and paint chips can remain in the home or on the garden years after the work is completed. Paint removal by blasting, burning, dry scraping, dry sanding and using power tools creates the most serious dangers because the particles are small enough to be inhaled or deposited in furnishings or carpet, making complete removal extremely difficult.


For further general guidance for people encountering lead in their environment and the dangers posed by lead around the home can be found on the following Fact Sheets available on the EPA website: