Lead paint hazards
Lead particles are released when old lead paint flakes and peels and collects as dust in ceiling, wall and floor voids. If dust is generated it must be contained. If runoff contains lead particles it must be contained. Lead is extremely hazardous, and stripping of lead-based paint and the disposal of contaminated waste must be carried out with all care. Lead is a cumulative poison and even small levels in the body can have severe effects.
Lead was a major ingredient in commercial and residential paints from the late 1800s to 1970. Most Australian commercial buildings and residential homes built before 1970 contain lead paint. These paints were used both inside and outside buildings.
Painters and renovators working in an area containing lead-based paint should refer to Australian Standard AS 4361.1–1995, Guide to Lead Paint Management—Industrial Applications, or AS 4361.2–1998, Guide to Lead Paint Management—Residential and Commercial Buildings.
Guide to Lead Paint Management
Paint containing lead was used in many Australian houses. Houses built before 1970 are most at risk, but those built more recently may also have paint containing lead in some areas.
Exposure to lead is a health hazard. Even small amounts of dust or chips of paint containing lead, generated during minor home repairs, can be a health risk.
Anyone painting a house or doing maintenance that could disturb paint containing lead should avoid exposing themselves to its hazards.
This booklet aims to provide basic information for do-it-yourself renovators on the risks associated with paint containing lead and on practical steps to keep those risks as low as possible. Ideally, however, houses with paint containing lead should be assessed and the appropriate steps to deal with the problem should be taken by trained professionals.
The advice in this booklet is based on the most recent research available. We recommend that you follow this advice to minimise the risks of exposure to lead in paint. 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.