LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News vol 1 no 1 Feb 1993   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: it's everywhere

Partial listing of the sources of lead contamination in soil, dust, sediment, water, air and living creatures by use:


  • Paint on old interior or exterior walls, floors, ceilings, boats, old furniture, toys, playground equipment, pencils, and on modern steel structures such as bridges and tanks, vehicles, farm machinery, whitegoods, etc.

Lead compounds in paint include:

  • white lead (lead carbonate) as the prime white pigment

lead compounds as anti­corrosive pigments:

  • - red lead (60% lead in dry film)
  • - universal pink primer (red lead + white lead)
  • - orange lead

lead compounds as coloured pigments:

  • - lead chromate pigment (yellow): 56 % lead
  • - lemon chrome pigment (lead chromate + lead sulphate)
  • - scarlet chrome pigment (lead chromate + lead molybdate)
  • - orange chrome pigment
  • - metallic lead pigment

lead compounds as driers: - litharge paint drier

  • - lead naphthenate paint drier

Transport applications

  • octane enhancer for automotive fuels
  • valve lubricant for pre-1986 automotive valves
  •  lead-acid batteries for generators and automotive use
  •  train brakes
  • aviation fuel for spark ignition engines
  • cable sheathing on marine vessel

Building materials

  • sheet lead flashings
  • dampcourses
  • old gas and water pipes
  • lead solder for plumbing
  • lead in bronze or brass alloys for plumbing valves or fixtures
  • cable sheathing for telephone and power cables
  • red lead as a sealant on the back of old lino
  • sound insulation
  • wrought iron
  • leadlight
  • putty
  • caulking
  • lead compounds as pigments, catalysts, lubricants and heat stabilisers in plastic resins, eg PVC piping
  • pipe fitting and collapsible tubing
  • earthquake dampening materials

Other uses

  • lead arsenate (previously used as an agricultural insecticide)
  • some foil tops covering the corks of wine bottles
  • canned food seals (excluding baby food)
  • lead crystal
  • old jewellery
  • dry cleaning
  • old crockery
  • old cutlery
  • old metal toothpaste tubes
  • lead glazed pottery
  • sheet lead for radiation shielding
  • Lead oxide in glass making and leaded glass for radiation shielding such as in TV tubes
  • fresh fruit and vegetables (natural lead levels are especially high in spinach and silver beet)
  • light bulbs
  • fishing sinkers
  • ammunition
  • lead shot
  • jockeys' and divers' weights
  • lead solder in circuit boards in electronic goods
  • electronic capacitors and superconductors as a component of concrete

  • typesetting

  • packaging inks and some coloured inks in newspapers

  • asphalt

  • lead for lining tanks and process vessels

  • nuclear waste containment receptacles

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Last Updated 09 May 2014
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PO Box 161 Summer Hill NSW 2130 Australia
Phone: +61 2 9716 0014