Run by

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
Australians! Take action
today. Is lead harming
you & your kids? Buy low
cost, NATA accredited
laboratory lead test kits
Sample your dust,
soil, water, paint, toys,
jewellery, ceramics
what's new 

Water Lead test Kits

Proceeds from our DIY Home Lead Assessment kit sales go towards the
Keeping Australian Lead Out of Leaded Petrol Initiative.

About Us | bell system lead poisoning | Contact Us | Council LEAD Project | egroups | Library - Fact Sheets | Home Page | Media Releases
| Q & A | Referral lists | Reports | Site Map | Slide Shows - Films | Subscription | Useful Links |  Search this Site

PDF of this file

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

ADRA (Australian Dust Removalists Association) Incorporated
Link re: lead dust removal

By Anne Roberts and Elizabeth O’Brien, The LEAD Group Inc.
Fact Sheet created 14th May 2010, based on a LEAD Action News article

The LEAD Group urges householders to have ceiling dust removed before insulation is installed.  This is typically going to be the only way that insulation installers will be forced to comply with state OH&S regulations in regard to protecting themselves from the hazards of ceiling dust.. A good risk management plan for insulators includes safe removal of ceiling dust prior to insulation installation. We also recommend that the removal of ceiling dust be done in accordance with guidelines set out by WorkCover NSW (see below). Dust removal should be carried out by a trained, competent dust removal contractor, using correct equipment.

The only such group of contractors in Australia are the members of The Australian Dust Removalists Association, (ADRA) - see

Only NSW WorkCover, out of all the Australian States (in Victoria, the authority is called “WorkSafe”, in South Australia it is called “Safe Work”) has written a fact sheet on ceiling dust containing lead. NSW WorkCover and Queensland Workplace Health and Safety have a fact sheet on the hazards of insulation installation, among them lead and ceiling dust. All state and territory Occupational Health and Safety regulations require that the employer identify hazards prior to work beginning, and that they have a Hazard Management Plan to ensure safe work conditions for their employees.

The NSW fact sheet on a code of practice for the Control of Hazardous Substances states that:

“Contractors and workers involved in the cleaning, repairing, or demolition of ceilings should be aware of the information contained within this guidance note.”

Ceiling dust removal prior to insulation installation (as much to protect the installers as to detox the home for all future residents) will cost homeowners more money than if they just have insulation laid on top of their accumulated ceiling dust. However, in most cases, non-removal of ceiling dust will make the work of insulation installers non-compliant with OH&S regulations. Note for example, the following statements from NSW WorkCover’s “FACT SHEET: HOW TO SAFELY INSTALL CEILING INSULATION


When installing ceiling insulation, you should control the health and safety risks associated with:

  • insulation containing synthetic mineral fibres (SMFs) – eg rockwool or glasswool – or other fibres or dust that can irritate the skin, eyes and upper respiratory tract
  • hazardous substances – eg asbestos, pesticides, chemicals or lead


If you’re an employer, head contractor or self-employed worker, you must:

  • follow the risk management process – ie identity all the hazards, assess their risks and control them

If you are an installer, before you enter the roof cavity to start the installation:

  • Do a pre-work risk assessment of the roof cavity and advise the building owner of any identified risks that you cannot eliminate or control.
  • Only start work once all the above is complete, and you are satisfied that the system of work and working environment is safe and without risk to health.

Now that two states WorkCover authorities have identified the hazard of leaded ceiling dust for insulation installers Australia-wide, all state and territory WorkCover Authorities, should similarly create informative factsheets for insulation installers and police the industry in this, it’s greatest growth phase ever.We include here, for the guidance of householders and/or contractors, a link to NSW WorkCover’s GUIDANCE NOTE FOR CEILING DUSTS CONTAINING LEAD and quotes from it:

Note: The Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) publish exposure standards in the document National Exposure Standards for Atmospheric Contaminants in the Occupational Environment 3rd Edition [NOHSC: 1003 (1995)]. Values for the exposure standards can be found online in the Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) database ( ) and interpretation of these standards can be found in the Guidance Note on the Interpretation of Exposure Standards for Atmospheric Contaminants in the Occupational Environment 3rd Edition [NOHSC: 3008 (1995)].

Safe work procedures

“Contractors and workers involved in the cleaning, repairing or replacement of ceilings are advised to consider the following procedures, in order to minimise health risks from ceiling dust.

These procedures include:

1. Working in ceilings [Information for householders as well as contractors]

  • The sealing of any openings between living areas of the dwelling and the ceiling void prior to the commencement of any work to prevent dust entering the living area.
  • The use of vacuum cleaners which comply with AS/NZS 3544 Industrial vacuum cleaners for particulates hazardous to health, to prevent the release of lead containing dust while it is being removed.

2. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) [Information for contractors]

The use of Personal Protective Equipment, including:

  1. Respirators complying with AS/NZS 1716 Respiratory Protective Devices and used according to AS/NZS 1715 Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective devices. If the results of the risk assessment identify significant chemical contamination, a full-face respirator may be required to provide the needed level of respiratory protection. Note: A respiratory protection program should be set up by management in accordance with AS/NZS 1715.
  2. Where respirators relying on facial fit are being used, workers should shave daily as beard and stubble can interfere with the facial fit, which could result in exposure to lead containing dust.
  3. Eye protection, complying with AS/NZS 1336 and AS/NZS 1337 whenever full-face respirators are not worn.
  4. Disposable coveralls with fitted hood (the type suitable for use in agricultural spraying and asbestos removal work, changed at regular intervals).

3. Decontamination and Personal Hygiene [Information for contractors]

The adoption of thorough decontamination procedures before each work break, including the observance of a high standard of personal hygiene. This can be achieved by:

  • provision of soap and adequate washing facilities
  • washing of hands before eating, drinking and smoking
  • employers providing laundering of work clothes
  • placing any used disposable overalls into marked bags, which should be sealed for disposal with other waste
  • the containment and disposal of the removed dust and any contaminated clothing, rags and other waste should be in accordance with any NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW DECC) (formerly the NSW EPA) requirements

after the work has been done, all equipment must be decontaminated and the area cleaned of dust. Use wet methods to dampen down dust material before wiping up, or use industrial vacuum cleaners.

4. Training [Information for contractors]

Workers should be provided with training that includes:

  1. the hazards associated with this type of work
  2. an understanding of the health risk assessment process
  3. an understanding of the results of health surveillance and biological monitoring
  4. the selection, use and maintenance of respirators
  5. safe work methods
  6. acceptable personal hygiene for this type of work.

All training should be documented and a register of training kept.

How much does it cost to detox a home of ceiling dust? Who should pay it?

The Australian Dust Removalists Association (ADRA) website states:“ADRA advises that given today’s current fuel prices and where there is relatively easy access to the job the average cost to vacuum a dust-only ceiling space is approximately $10 per m2 using WORKCOVER specified HEPA filtered equipment by trained staff. The $10 per m2 is for a building of approximately 100m2 and smaller might have a larger charge whereas larger would be less per m2.“Difficult entry and trussed low pitched roofs, removal of rubble and removal of old insulation, both batts and loose fill would involve extra cost. In cases of small areas, expect there to be a minimum job price.”

As noted above, no ceiling dust tests that we’ve seen in Australia have revealed the absence of lead. We therefore do not recommend testing ceiling dust for lead. It would almost certainly be an unnecessary expense in all but the newest of houses.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the federal government were to use some of the billion dollars or so that it received when the 2 cents per litre price differential between leaded and unleaded petrol was introduced in the 1990s to speed the phase-out of leaded petrol, to set up a rebate to cover the cost of ceiling dust removal today, cleaning up all that lead from vehicle emissions once and for all?

PDF of this file

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?

About Us | bell system lead poisoning | Contact Us | Council LEAD Project | egroups | Library - Fact Sheets | Home Page | Media Releases
| Q & A | Referral lists | Reports | Site Map | Slide Shows - Films | Subscription | Useful Links |  Search this Site

Privacy Policy | Disclaimer

Visitor Number

 Last Updated 02 May 2014
Copyright © The LEAD Group Inc. 1991- 2014
PO Box 161 Summer Hill NSW 2130 Australia
Phone: +61 2 9716 0014