Stay safe from lingering lead

It might be in old coats of paint, dust, or even your soil – and it’s especially dangerous to children. The Stay Safe from Lingering Lead Campaign helps with understanding and dealing with lead in your home or workplace.

The ‘Stay Safe from Lingering Lead’ campaign uses videos to help alert home renovators and gardeners to be cautious and wear protective clothing when working around lead in old paint or soil.

The social media campaign is particularly targeting the Sydney Inner West, Newcastle and Wollongong council areas.

Lead in the environment

Lead is a naturally occurring element that has been used in a range of household, recreational and industrial products.

Many uses of lead have been phased out, including lead paint, leaded automotive fuel and some forms of solder used in plumbing. Lead continues to be used in lead-acid car batteries, some forms of solder, waterproof flashing for roofs and gutters, and radiation protection.

Lead can therefore be found in the environment in many forms, including in:

  • lead-based paint on houses built before 1970, and lead paint flakes around structures
  • lead dust from industrial and domestic sources in soil, and in roof and wall cavities
  • lead waste from industrial sources in soil
  • some household products
  • some vegetables and plants that are grown in contaminated soil
  • eggs and other animal products from animals reared on contaminated soil.

Lead and your health

Exposure to lead is linked to harmful effects on organs and bodily functions. Elevated blood lead levels can cause anaemia, kidney problems and neurological or developmental effects.

Lead can harm people of all ages but the risks are greater in pregnant women, infants and children. Other factors that influence the impact of lead on an individual are their age and health status, the amount of lead and the duration of exposure.

If you suspect that you or your family have been exposed to lead, visit your doctor for advice.

For more information, see the NHMRC Statement and Information Paper on the health effects of lead at

Test for lead

Find out where the sources of lead are likely to be around your home by testing all suspected lead- contaminated surfaces and materials using commercially available lead test kits. These kits are available from major hardware retailers.

If you cannot test for lead, it is best to assume that paint, soil or dust is contaminated.

Lead in your home and workplace

Sources of lead include

  • waste from mines and industrial sources in soil and water (including tailings, mine waste rock and smelter slag_
  • 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 water pipes, leadlight windows, PVC products, lead sheeting and paints in various products
  • workers in a lead industry bringing dust home on clothes or tools which can contaminate a home and family
  • hobbies involving working with lead or lead paint which can accidently expose you or others to lead

Potential sources of lead contamination - Dust, Air Water. Old plumbing or water tanks, petrol, old paint, soil, food, everyday products eg imported cooking pots.


The Broken Hill Environmental Lead Program, in partnership with the EPA and NSW Health, has developed the Lead Smart website to let Broken Hill residents and the NSW community know about the local lead issue, how and where children get exposed to lead, things carers and children can do to minimise lead exposure, and the importance of blood lead screening for children under 5.

More information

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