How likely is my Sydney home to contain lead in paint?
If your home was built before the 1980s it may contain white lead (lead carbonate) – a common white pigment used in paint for Sydney homes before 1980, which contains more than 1% lead.
Before 1980, white lead paint was mainly used on exterior building surfaces, interior doors and architraves, in houses throughout Sydney. Undercoats and primers often contained as much as 20% lead.
Red, yellow and orange lead-chrome pigments were also used on interior walls, but were less common.
When refitting your house, it’s important to remember that lead paint might not be on the surface. Layers of lead paint are often covered with layers of more recent paint.
If your home was built from the 1980s onwards your painted surfaces are much less likely to contain lead.
However, we’ve tested some samples from post-1980s homes in Sydney where previous owners have used paints with high concentrations of lead.
If you have any suspicion at all that you have found lead, have a paint sample tested by Airsafe.
What about lead in dust and soil?
Lead deposits are often found as dust in ceiling spaces in Sydney homes, or in soil. Lead in dust or soil is often there as a result of previous renovations, but it can also be due to:
- Atmospheric deposits (e.g. from previous lead petrol use)
- Lead residue from nearby industrial sites (e.g. smelters)
- Other lead paint removal projects nearby
If you suspect you may have found lead in dust or soil in your Sydney house, it’s important to have a sample tested straight away.
Lead in Sydney homes – the facts
The good news is that lead is less dangerous than asbestos.
However, lead in any form is still toxic when ingested and inhaled. Over time, repeated inhalation or ingestion of lead dust or paint particles can result in lead poisoning.
Exposure to even low levels of lead can result in serious and irreversible health and behavioural problems, especially in young children.
For this reason, it’s important you consider lead hazard management during home renovations.
Always be careful when removing lead from the home environment. As lead inhalation or ingestion can cause potential health problems, it’s often best to contract a professional to do the work for you.
Remember, inhalation or ingestion is not only a problem for your family but also all those within the vicinity of lead removal works. Lead can also pose a risk when accidently deposited on nearby footpaths or soil where it can be potentially tracked into houses in the surrounding area and beyond.
If you need an expert, call Airsafe on (02) 9555 9034 for more advice. We work with lead removalists every day and can steer you towards a qualified professional who can get the job done quickly and safely.