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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Lead aware housekeeping

The most common way for people, to take lead into our bodies, is by way of "leaded" dust. This is especially so for young children because as all parents know, pre school children often put everything in their mouths, which introduces leaded dust into their stomachs. This dust can come from many sources including deteriorating paint, leaded petrol exhaust, ceiling void dust leakage, tracked in soil or dust brought home on the clothes of a worker or lead hobbyist.

Very small amounts of lead are known to cause serious health effects in humans, especially young children. This damage can be occurring when symptoms are not showing. Remember, a lot of lead contaminated dust is too fine to be seen. If you live in a home which has been renovated, or built before 1970, is situated on a busy street or is near a lead industry, these lead aware housekeeping tips will help reduce your family’s risk of exposure.

Mopping and Wet Wiping
Throw your broom and feather duster away! Use wet wiping and mopping to replace all dusting and sweeping. When cleaning is done "dry", a large amount of dust is lifted into the air, only to settle on surfaces again later. Wet mop hard floor surfaces and wet wipe bench tops, furniture, toys and window sills etc (especially child accessible surfaces) using a high phosphate detergent (e.g.liquid sugar soap) in the water.

After you vacuum, dust stays suspended for some time, so allow at least an hour (preferably with doors closed to minimise air flow and dust disturbance) before you wet wipe. This is to maximise dust capture during the wet wiping process. Of course the longer you can allow between vacuuming and dusting the better (e.g. overnight).

High phosphate detergents are extremely efficient at taking up lead particles in the cleaning process. Rinse the mop and change the water regularly. Some users find it harsh and it is recommended that you use gloves to protect your skin. The frequency of mopping depends on the degree of lead contamination. Within 10 metres of a major traffic artery or other source of airborne lead, it should be done twice a week. Further away, preferably once a week, but at least once a fortnight.

Carpets and Vacuuming
Remove carpet if possible, as hard floor surfaces are easier to clean. Ordinary vacuum cleaners cannot filter all fine lead particles, so if possible use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter or a ducted vacuum system to prevent the redistribution of dust particles in the home. If neither of these options are available, try to vacuum when young children are not present and allow time for dust to settle before they are allowed into the room. It is best to vacuum once a week rather than every day, because of the dust disturbance. Carpets are very difficult to clean once they are contaminated (as are curtains and other soft furnishings).

Animal coats can harbour considerable amounts of dust, so keep pets outside and ensure children wash their hands after patting them. Any animal bedding that may be accessible to children should be washed with liquid sugar soap. Take off shoes at the door or use washable or hoseable mats to prevent dust being tracked into the home by pets or family members.

Regularly wash soft toys, cloth books and security blankets. Hard toys should be washed in liquid sugar soap and rinsed well. Workers, shooters and hobbyists can all bring home lead dust on their clothes or contaminate the area that they work in, if home based. People such as painters, panel beaters, motor mechanics, car battery workers, builders, mine workers, leadlighters and furniture restorers could all pose a lead risk to children and care should be taken. Keep children away from workshops and garages and clean the area thoroughly. Do not shake or leave dusty clothes near children. When laundering work clothes use a phosphate detergent (e.g. liquid sugar soap) and wash them separately from family clothes. Rinse out the machine afterwards, again with a phosphate solution, before the next load to prevent cross contamination.

Preferably launder work clothes at work.

Regular hand washing can make a huge difference to a child's intake of lead dust. Always wash hands with soap after playing outside, touching pets and always before eating. It is also important to dry them well as damp hands will naturally pick up more dust. Fingernails should be kept short and a nail brush used regularly. Dummies should be kept clean and pinned to clothing. Having a clean dummy is better than putting dusty objects in the mouth. Young children need frequent meals and snacks - up to six a day as they absorb less lead with something in their stomach. Their diet should be high in iron, protein, calcium, Vitamin C and zinc and avoid high fat foods.

A cleaning system recommended by the US EPA, known as the "three bucket" system may be useful if you are concerned about lead levels, particularly after a renovation or if you live on a very busy road. This system is not required for "everyday" housekeeping!

Three bucket cleaning system, You will need :

  1. Three buckets (1 - for detergent, 2 - for clean water, 3 - for emptying used water into)
  2. Two mops or rags, one for clean and one for dirty
  3. A lead specific cleaning detergent (e.g. liquid sugar soap)


  1. Place mop into detergent solution, wipe area
  2. Squeeze into empty bucket
  3. Place second mop into clean water and wipe area and squeeze into empty bucket
  4. Replace water every room or every half hour whichever comes first
  5. Pour water down toilet
  6. Start at top and furthest corner from door

This fact sheet was produced with the assistance of the NSW Government.

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The LEAD Group Inc. Fact Sheet 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?


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Last Updated 02 May 2014
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PO Box 161 Summer Hill NSW 2130 Australia
Phone: +61 2 9716 0014 Fax: +61 2 9716 9005