LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News vol 5 no 3, 1997 ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

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How would you know if you or your child is lead poisoned?

Though very small amounts of lead are known to cause serious long term health effects, symptoms only become obvious at higher levels. So take a minute to learn more about LEAD POISONING which is now recognised internationally, as one of the GREATEST ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH RISKS FACING CHILDREN TODAY.


(Source: SMH 29.3.96 Gilchrist & Beale)


Anyone can be poisoned by lead but those most at risk are:

Children under the age of four -because:

  1. pica.jpg (37936 bytes)their brain and nervous system are still developing
    and are more easily damaged;
  2. they actually absorb 5O% of the lead that they take into their bodies compared with 10% for adults and;
  3. toddlers under four have more hand to mouth activity and therefore ingest more lead contaminated dust. In some older urban suburbs up to 50% of children under 5 years have too much lead in their blood.

(Source FETT et al MJA Vol. 157, Oct 5 1992)

Pregnant women - may be at greater risk due to changes in their bodies duringpregnant pregnancy. Also, there is no barrier to lead in the placenta and therefore no protection for the unborn child.

trio.jpg (15498 bytes)Women of child bearing age: The human body mistakes lead for calcium and stores lead in our bones. During pregnancy a woman’s hormones may mobilise calcium for the growth of the baby and also mobilise any lead that she has laid down on her bones anytime throughout her life. Lead has a half life in the bone for almost 30 years.

Men: Very small amounts of lead can affect libido, fertility and blood pressure. This hypertension (high blood pressure) increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.


Levels of lead which are barely measurable have been shown to affect body systems. Theheadq.jpg (7305 bytes) 1993 Australian National Goal is to have all Australians below 10m g/dL. That is equivalent to one teaspoon of lead in a large backyard swimming pool! One chip of old lead paint the size of your fingernail, eaten by a child, is enough to raise their lead levels dangerously high. In other words not much lead is too much lead for good health.


head.jpg (21535 bytes)You or your children could have elevated blood lead levels and not know it because even though serious, long term damage is occurring, patients usually do not show symptoms until levels are very high. Low levels of lead can cause brain damage, learning difficulties, behavioural problems, kidney damage, hearing impairment, growth retardation and many other affects, but these are often difficult to recognise until the damage is done. High levels of lead can cause miscarriage, birth defects, coma and death.

Symptoms, when they do occur are often subtle and are attributed to other causes. In children these can be irritability, tiredness or decreased play activity, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation and headaches. Adults can also suffer loss of libido, infertility and elevated blood pressure.


Just about everywhere, but the main sources are :

 house.jpg (16464 bytes)1) Old paint from buildings built prior to 1970. There are at least 3.5 million homes in Australia with lead based paint and it is not possible to identify it by it’s "look". Lead paint is often sweet tasting and therefore children will pick at it and eat it and animals will lick it Also, when this paint is sanded, scraped or is peeling it creates a dangerous lead dust that is easily inhaled or swallowed. This dust also enters soil where it is easily accessed by children or animals. LEAD does not BREAK DOWN. It remains toxic and unless dealt with safely it will not "go away."

2) Exhaust emissions from petrol driven vehicles are another source of leadbowser.jpg (13253 bytes)
particles which not only pollutes the air we breathe, but settles on soil and in buildings where people will come into contact with it.

3) Dust in the roof void (attic), wall cavity or under floor area is often contaminated with lead. So if a ceiling or wall is to come down, or a skylight or attic ladder is to be installed, care must be taken to prevent contamination of living spaces.

4) Workers such as furniture restorers, leadlighters, car battery and radiator workers and painters can bring home lead dust on their clothes and their children are poisoned as a result. Hobbyists such as fishermen making sinkers,
shooters at indoor firing ranges or miniature collectors are also at risk.

tap.jpg (10026 bytes)5) The first flush of water in the morning or during the night should not be given to babies
or young childrencan.jpg (44493 bytes) because lead can leach into water. New taps can contain 4.5% lead and older taps may contain even more. New plumbing may leach lead for up to five years! A water filter may be the answer for your family.

6) Some food cans sold in Australia STILL have lead solder.
These cans are usually irregular in shape with a thick seam and horizontal depressions (dents). This is a source of lead that is EASILY avoided by buying a non lead-soldered product which has a flat welded seam.

veg.jpg (23027 bytes)7) If you are a gardener some above ground crops such as tomatoes and beans are better grown in "leaded soils" than root vegetables e.g potatoes and carrots. Also all produce, especially root vegetables, should be carefully washed or peeled before eating to minimise any risk. Vacuum cleaner dust should not be put in the compost bin as this dust can contain high levels of lead.

cat.jpg (7248 bytes)8) Pets often show symptoms of lead poisoning before people. If your pet is unwell and a vet diagnoses lead poisoning, you should see that ALL members of the household have a blood test for lead. Pets should be kept outside and definitely off children’s beds because they collect lead dust on their coats. Regular washing of the pet and hand washing for the family members is important.


  • table.jpg (15604 bytes)Have you renovated a pre 1970 home or do you live on a busy road?
  • Does your pre 1970 home have peeling or chalking paint?
  • Was the paint on your or your neighbours pre 1970 property ever sand or water blasted or renovated using sanding or some other unsafe dust creating method?
  • Does a member of the household work with lead or use it in a hobby?
  • Do you live near a source of lead contamination (e.g lead smelter, market garden once sprayed with lead arsenate, municipal incinerator, car repairer where paint is stripped, battery breaking yard).


The Global Lead Advice & Support Service will give free telephone service, free writtentick.jpg (10779 bytes) material and free community workshops and meetings to parents. We will provide advice and support about any lead related questions or concern that you may have. Advice such as: where to have samples of paint, dust or soil analysed, how to take simple steps with diet to reduce the absorption rate of lead, how to undertake a safe renovation or how to ensure your tradesperson uses safe methods.

If you feel that you or your child may have been exposed to lead the only reliable way of knowing is to have a blood lead test conducted. Ask your GP.

Please contact The Global Lead Advice & Support Service if you would like more information. Freecall 1800 626 086 Phone: +61 2 9716 0132
Fax: +61 2 9716 9005 Email: Web: www.lead.org.au

This project was assisted by the NSW Government

Contents | Previous Item | Next Item | Disclaimer

The LEAD Group Inc. Fact Sheets Index

NSW Lead Reference Centre and NSW Government Publications On this site

  1. About the Global Lead Advice and Support Service (GLASS)

  2. Main Sources of Lead

  3. How Would You Know If You or Your Child Was lead poisoned?

  4. Lead aware housekeeping

  5. Ceiling dust & lead poisoning

  6. Is your yard lead safe?

  7. Health Impacts of lead poisoning

  8. Rotary Questionnaire

  9. Lead poisoned Pets and Your Family

  10. Childhood Lead Poisoning Risk Factor Questionnaire

  11. Is Your Child Safe From Lead? - What Can You Do About Lead?

  12. Lead in Drinking Water in Australia

  13. Have We Really Resolved The Lead Issue?

  14. The Importance of the Availability of "Spot Tests" for Lead in Paint

  15. Pregnant or Planning a Pregnancy

  16. Breastfeeding and Lead

  17. Lead in breast milk

  18. Beware The Lead In Lead Lighting

  19. Renting and Lead

  20. What to do if you have too much lead in your tank water

  21. Lead Contamination in Stormwater

  22. Contamination At Shooting Ranges

  23. Banned: Leaded Wick Candles

  24. Lead, Ageing and Death

  25. Metal miniatures: How to minimise the risks of lead poisoning and contamination

  26. 7 Point Plan for the MANAGEMENT OF LEAD by Australian parents and carers

  27. Countries where Leaded Petrol is Possibly Still Sold for Road Use, As at 17th June 2011

  28. Lead Poisoning And The Brain - Cognitive Deficits And Mental Illness

  29. Facts and Firsts of Lead

  30. Lead mining royalties by state and territory

  31. Lead Mining Stewardship - Grey Lead and the Role of The LEAD Group

  32. Preventative Strategies of The LEAD Group

  33. What do Doctors need to do about Lead?

  34. A Naturopath's Experience Of Lead & People With Diagnosed Mental Illness

  35. Case File: Helping Manage Australian Lead in Petrol - How GLASS Works

  36. Glass Web & Service-Users, Experts & Volunteers, by Country; Countries with Leaded Petrol for Road Use & Worst Pollution

  37. Lead in ceiling dust

  38. Lead paint & ceiling dust management - how to do it lead-safely

  39. Esperance parliamentary inquiry follow-up factsheet: Where to from Here??

  40. Broken Hill lead miners factsheet 1893 with Note 20081015

  41. Helping a Doctor Help 35,000 Lead-Poisoned People Around the Lead Smelter at La Oroya in Peru
    Ayuda a un doctor que ayuda 35,000 personas envenenadas por plomo alrededor de la fundidora de plomo en la Oroya-Peru

  42. Fact sheet for Australian toy importers and traders

  43. Iron Nutrition & Lead Toxicity
    Informe de Acciones – Hierro y Plomo en la Nutrición

  44. Sanitarium-Are You getting Enough Iron

  45. Do-It-Yourself-Lead-Safe-Test-Kits-flyer

  46. Blood lead testing: who to test, when, and how to respond to the result

  47. Dangers of a blood lead level above 2 µg/dL and below 10 µg/dL to both adults and children

  48. Lead Exposure & Alzheimer’s Disease: Is There A Link?

  49. In CHINA - Blood lead testing: who to test, when, and how to respond to the result

  50. Why you should have your ceiling dust removed before you take advantage of the Australian government's Energy Efficient Homes Package: Insulation Program

  51. Alperstein et al Lead Alert - A Guide For Health Professionals 1994

  52. Ceiling Dust WorkCover Guide Lee Schreiber Final Nov 1999

  53. What can I do about climate change AND lead?

  54. The Need for Expert Clinical Assessments in Diagnosis Of Heavy Metal Poisoning

  55. Why you should have your ceiling dust removed before you have insulation installed

  56. Thirty Thought-Starters on Ceiling Void Dust in Homes

  57. Pectin: Panacea for both lead poisoning and lead contamination

  58. Nutrients that reduce lead poisoning June 2010

  59. Lead poisoning and menopause

  60. Fact sheet For Schoolkids From Professor Knowlead About Lead

  61. Prevention of Exposure to Lead at Work in Indonesia

  62. Mencegah kontak dengan timbal di tempat kerja di Indonesia

  63. How to Protect Your Family from Lead in Indonesia

  64. Bagaimana melindungi keluargamu dari timbal di Indonesia

  65. Cigarette Smoking & Lead Toxicity
     صحيفة معلومات: التدخين والتسمم بالرصاص

  66. Medical Evaluation Questionnaire For Occupational Lead Exposure

  67. Dangers of a blood lead level above 2 µg/dL and below 10 µg/dL to children

  68. Dangers of a blood lead level above 2 µg/dL and below 10 µg/dL to adults

  69. Biosolids used as fertilizer in China and other countries

  70. What are the lead poisoning risks of a lead pellet, bullet or shot lodged in the body?

  71. Alcohol’s link to higher lead and iron levels

  72. USA Case Definition of Adult (including Occupational) & Child Elevated Blood Lead Levels (EBLL)

  73. Low Level Lead Exposure Harms Children - A Renewed Call for Primary Prevention

  74. Occupational Health & Safety Fact Sheet Dangers of lead for roofers

  75. Let’s Make Leaded Petrol History - Let’s Make Leaded Gasoline History

  76. Lead, Your Health & the Environment. Available in Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean, Macedonian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese 

  77. Lead Safe Housekeeping

  78. Old Lead Paint

  79. Working safely with lead

  80. A Renovator's Guide To The Dangers Of Lead (Brochure 30 pages)

  81. A Guide For Health Care Professionals (Brochure 34 pages)

  82. A Guide To Keeping Your Family Safe From Lead (Brochure 20 pages)

  83. Lead Hazard Management In Children's Services (Brochure 15 pages)

  84. A Guide To Dealing With Soil That Might Be Lead-Contaminated

  85. Exposure Assessment: Lead Neurotoxicity - Is the Center for Disease Control's goal to reduce lead below 10 µg/dl blood in all children younger than 72 months by 2010, good enough?

  86. Foods for Lead Detox - Foods which Fight Lead Poisoning
    Alimentos para la Desintoxicación de Plomo - Alimentos que Luchan contra el Envenenamiento con Plomo

  87. Veganism - How do you obtain all the nutrients from a vegan diet that are important to lead exposed individuals?

  88. Blood Lead Challenge - Take the blood lead discovery and reporting challenge;
    El Desafío del Plomo en la Sangre - Descubra el nivel de plomo en la sangre y desafíe las estadisticas;
    Défi de Plomb dans le sang - Partez à la découverte de plomb dans votre sang et informez nous:


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The LEAD Group Inc
The Lead Education and Abatement Design Group
Working to eliminate lead poisoning globally and to protect the
environment from lead in all its uses: past, current and new uses
ABN 25 819 463 114
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Last Updated 14 March 2015
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PO Box 161 Summer Hill NSW 2130 Australia
Phone: +61 2 9716 0014