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QUESTION: How can I confirm if my parents were exposed to lead & what remedy should be put in place to recover? 20/02/09   New South Wales, Australia

Elizabeth,

I have just come to know that paints can contain lead. 3 years ago, my mum and dad decided to paint their house themselves and since then their health had deteriorated. It is only now that they look and feel in somewhat better shape.  The paint they used is Dulux which claims their paints have no lead. However, given their health deterioration after they painted the house (they are in mid 50's), I suspect they were exposed to some form of lead poisoning.

How can I confirm if they were exposed to lead and what remedy should be put in place to recover (if any)

Thanks in advance

Robert

EMAIL TWO Sent: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 2:54 PM

Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks greatly for your help in this matter.

I think people need to be more aware of the risks of painting. I am sure many people today will take it upon themselves to paint their own house and save some money because it seems an easy thing to do without realising the lead exposure risks.

It seems to me that antioxidants are the nutrition key against lead poisoning (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/128335.php)

Funnily enough, many people today take Swiss Ultivite etc which contains this stuff and may help somewhat against lead poisoning.

I will look into your recommendations, thanks for your help

Regards,

Robert.

ANSWER: Feb 20 2009

Hi Robert,

it's synchronicitous that you should have noticed the Dulux online claim that their paints have no lead, in the very same week that I noticed it. I have contacted them and I am currently reviewing their internal technical factsheet on the matter as well as their online claim that for over 30 years their architectural paints have not contained lead. So you might want to keep a lookout for changes on their website in that regard, at http://www.dulux.com.au/services/colour-consultants/faq's The important thing to know about the risks of lead poisoning when re-painting however, is that it is the method of preparation of the old painted surfaces that counts, because it has been a legal requirement to only sell architectural paints in Australia since 1997 if they contain less than 0.1% lead. I am quite confident that Dulux would be compliant with that requirement and may well only sell architectural paints with much less than 0.1% lead in them. So, to understand the real risk of lead poisoning during repainting means to understand that if you dry sand, heatgun, water blast or sand blast old paint or disperse it as dust or fumes or flakes by any other method, then it is possible for adults to become lead poisoned because it's very likely that old paint does contain lead - the older the paint the more lead it typically contains. It's quite hard to protect yourself from lead fumes (masks often don't fit or people don't wear them etc) and lead dust will remain in the environment and be re-entrained (and available for inhalation or perhaps even ingestion for instance via a benchtop on which food is prepared) every time someone sweeps, uses a featherduster or leafblower or vacuums with a vacuum cleaner that does not have a state-of-the-art HEPA filter. To answer your question about how you can confirm whether your parents were exposed to lead 3 years ago, I have forwarded you our Info Pack on Case management after earlier lead poisoning. The Info Pack also recommends finding a doctor who is experienced in treating lead poisoning, to discuss a remedy. To find out whether there is still lead dust in the home, you can purchase one of our DIY-sampling kits for home lead assessment - see  - for instance, to collect dust wipe samples from any carpet which may be contaminated with lead paint dust, or soil samples if the re-painting was an exterior job.

All the best and I hope this helps

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien

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