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Lead Paint

Lead was added to paints right up until the 1980’s and was not completely banned in Australia until early 90’s. It is unsafe especially when disturbed, and should only be removed by a licensed, experienced professional. Aging flaking paint, airborne dust particles from sanding, or smoke produced from burning it off are the foremost causes of lead poisoning in homes. Elevated lead levels in the blood and accumulation of the toxin in the body left untreated can result in brain damage or death.

The first affected is often the family pet, or the children – who are most impacted by elevated blood levels and are more vulnerable to exposure due to tendencies to put things in the mouth, or play on the ground. Any lead particles ingested can seriously affect their developing nervous systems, interfering with intellectual development and behavior, even at very low levels. If removal is not performed correctly and dust is spread, occupants of the house and neighbors may notice symptoms like appetite loss, abdominal pain, vomiting, headaches, unexplained tiredness, irritability, confusion, fits, muscle weakness or paralysis.

Pregnant women are at even greater risk as lead can cross the placenta to their unborn child damaging the growing nervous system and increasing the incidence of premature birth. A doctor must be contacted immediately if lead poisoning is suspected. The only clear way to determine exposure is by a blood test. To reduce any risk of contaminating your home, use a licensed Lead Paint Remover, and monitor the job to ensure they are taking the correct precautions.

For more information click The Lead Group


Listen to the Broadcast of  ABC’s

Background Briefing ‘Lead Poisoning: a Silent Epidemic’

Lead Paint was commonly used until the 1970’s in Australia, and is still used in some countries today.  In Australia buildings painted prior to the mid 1970’s should be tested for lead paint prior to any scraping or sanding being done.   In The United States buildings built prior to 1978 should be tested in the same way. Check with your local government what year high levels of lead were removed from the manufacture of paint.

If you are unsure as to whether the paint you are about to disturb contains lead, you can purchase a lead test kit from a hardware or paint shop for only a few dollars.

If you find lead in the paint we recommend you contact a certified contractor to assist you with its removal.

Lead based paint is dangerous and should not be disturbed by anyone other than a professional.  Paint flakes, dust and fumes from burning off or sanding the old paint are the major contributors to lead poisoning.  Inhalation and ingestion are the main ways for people to get elevated blood lead levels. Either way the lead is absorbed and can accumulate in the body and if left untreated, can be fatal.

Common symptoms of lead poisoning are loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, abdominal cramps and constipation, headaches, fatigue, irritability, confusion, fitting, muscle weakness or paralysis.  The people most at risk are the ones removing the lead based paint, occupants and neighbors if dust is dispersed, family members of the people working in a lead environment.

Children are most vulnerable to lead poisoning, and are at a higher risk and affected more severely at lower blood levels.  They have a tendency to place things into their mouths, play more in potentially affected areas, and can absorb up to 50% of the lead entering their bodies while their nervous system still developing.  Studies suggest that even low levels of lead in children can adversely affect their intellectual development and behavior.

For women during pregnancy, lead may pass through the placenta from mother to baby which in turn can affect the development of the nervous system of the baby as well as increase the risk of premature birth.

The only way to identify lead poisoning is through a blood test. A doctor should be consulted immediately if you suspect lead poisoning. Pets often show the first signs of lead poisoning due to their size and their habits e.g. (getting dust on their paws and licking them clean).

Once again I reiterate if you have lead based paint I highly recommend you contact a contractor that has lead based paint removal experience.

For more information click The Lead Group