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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Is your yard lead safe?

 Very small amounts of lead are known to cause serious long term health effects.

 Young children are particularly vulnerable to exposure from lead because of their hand to mouth activity and because they play in garden areas where lead can be in the soil. But: remember that ANYONE can be lead poisoned.

The narrow one metre strip around the foundations of a home, shed or garage (often referred to as the drip zone) is usually where the most lead contaminated soil can be found. This is because paint chips containing lead have fallen to the ground and over the years have mixed with the top layer of soil. This dangerous leaded soil does not "look" different and will not "go away". Lead does NOT biodegrade and needs to be removed or made "lead safe".

If you live near a busy road or live in an industrialised area or point source community where a lead mine or smelter or lead industry contributes to lead air pollution, then the soil anywhere on your property could be contaminated and care should be taken.


Lead in dirt clings to fingers, toys and other objects that children normally put into their mouths. This is the most common way that lead in soil gets into your child. Lead in soil does not pass through unbroken skin. The more lead that is in your soil, the more harmful the soil can be to your children’s health. If soil is covered, children have less contact with the dirt and the lead in it.


The cheapest and easiest method of control for contaminated soil is to create a barrier (covering bare soil areas), so that animals and particularly young children will not come into contact with "leaded soil". However, the potential for future exposure remains unless total removal of the soil is undertaken. 

There are a number of "barrier alternatives" that have proved to be effective. If possible first turn the soil over to mix the contaminated top layer. Then "greening" methods such as grassing the area, covering with a ground cover or planting shrubs will help. If you use thorny or prickly plants the temptation for children to play in the dirt or for pets to lie or dig in the soil will be much less. Raised or elevated garden beds (using logs, bricks or bush rock etc) means that clean, fresh soil can be used as back-fill to cover the contaminated area . Placing a thick layer of newspaper and covering with 7.5cms (3 inches) mulch or woodchips, concrete or paving (check with Council about hard surface requirements), crushed brick, gravel or fencing off the area are other methods.

 Another lead "hot spot" in the yard is where roof downpipes discharge onto the ground. As this area is prone to constant erosion from the flow of water, an area of stones or pebbles will allow the water to seep away and yet prevent access to soil.

Use any means that will prevent access to dust and dirt.

 The most permanent (and initially expensive) barriers will last the longest as mulch, gravel etc need to be regularly "topped up" to maintain coverage.

The NSW EPA soil action level for further investigation is 300 ppm (parts per million)

The following are the USA EPA guidelines for lead contaminated soil:

up to 400ppm (parts per million) OK** (note NSW EPA action level for further investigation is 300ppm) OK
400 - 2000ppm response action 1 OK
2000 - 5000ppm response action 1 response action 1
above 5000ppm response action 2 response action 2

 * these areas include residential backyards, daycare/school yards, playgrounds;
parks and other  areas where children gather.


Interim controls to change use patterns and establish barriers between children and contaminated soil including:

  • planting groundcover
  • moving play equipment
  • restricting access through barriers
  • controlling further contamination of the area


Abatement of soil, including removal and replacement of contaminated soil and permanent barriers


If you live on a busy road and your soil lead levels are added to by leaded petrol exhaust fall out, the barrier methods still apply, together with the creation of a natural barrier or wall to counter the fall out. Studies indicate that natural barriers are best and they provide other environmental benefits as well! Evergreen trees and shrubs with dense foliage are the most effective natural barrier as they trap some of the leaded dust before it reaches your home. Remember to plant smog tolerant plants as otherwise your hard work may be wasted when the plant dies. Check with your nursery for what is best for your area.

Some suggested evergreen trees and tall shrubs* are the White Sally Wattle (Acacia Floribundaab ),Lilly Pilly (Acmena smithii a ), Peppermint Willow (Agonis flexuosa abcd), Weeping Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalisad), Port Jackson Cypress Pine (Callitris rhomboidea ad), Bracelet Honey Myrtle (Melaleuca armillarisad) and Water Gum (Tristaniopsis laurinaab )


Soil in areas where children play, should be tested for lead and should be located away from the drip zone of the house, shed or garage and busy roads. Sand used in sand boxes should be clean, uncontaminated material and should be able to be covered to prevent lead contamination when not in use. When buying sand ask your supplier if it has been tested for lead and other metals. Soil or sand testing will cost around $35 -$40 and can be carried out by these labs accredited by NATA for testing soil: 

  • AAL - Hornsby

Phone (02) 9482 1922

  • GTEL Environmental Laboratories - Kingsgrove. Phone (02) 9502 4844
  • Trace Metal Laboratory
  • NSW Health Department
    Phone (02) 9646 0424

  • NSW Department of Primary Industries
    Soil testing service
    The soil sampling kit provides all you need to submit your samples to our laboratory. The sampling kits are supplied free of charge but there is a charge for testing the contents, please contact our customer service unit for current prices. They are available at NSW DPI district offices or through our customer service centres
  • GM Laboratories
  • Leichhardt
    Phone (02) 9564 1033

  • Analabs
  • Banksmeadow.
    Phone (02) 9316 4255

The LEAD Group Inc. 
Do-it-Yourself lead safe testing kit
All samples are analysed by a NATA registered laboratory, with results available in 1-2 weeks.

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.


Cars, boats or caravans parked in the yard will destroy the grass that covers lead contaminated soil, so driveways should confine parking to a designated area that is either paved or has a gravel cover.

In areas where people regularly walk, there should be a path or walkway to minimise the creation of bare soil areas. Removing shoes at the door is the most effective barrier to tracked in dirt, but otherwise washable or hoseable mats at doorways will help prevent some of the dust from being tracked into the home.


Pets are a source of dust brought into the home on their coats and they should be regularly washed and brushed outside. They are also at risk from lead and if your pet is diagnosed with lead poisoning all members of the family should have a blood lead test


Because of the fall out of lead particles, some areas are just not desirable for growing food crops unless raised beds are created and soil is regularly tested and replaced with clean fill when required. They include areas around smelters, incinerators, landfilled areas, land lying within ten to twenty metres of a heavily travelled road, and land near gutter downpipes or near buildings painted prior to 1970.

City gardeners, should have soil tested to ensure lead levels are acceptable for growing food or assume it is contaminated and take precautions. Homes where soil has been "imported" from an unknown source may also wish to test for lead and other metals.

Research indicates that some leafy vegetables and herbs collect lead dust from the air as well as the soil more readily than other vegetables. Always remember to thoroughly wash all fruit and vegetables prior to storage and eating. Peel root vegetables. 

HIGH uptake of lead Lettuce, Spinach, Carrot, Endive, Cress, Beetroot
MODERATE uptake Onion, Mustard, Potato, Radish
LOW uptake Corn, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Celery, Berries
VERY LOW uptake of lead Beans, Peas, Melon, Tomatoes, Fruit, Paprika

 If your soil is high in organic matter and at an approximately neutral acidic level (i.e. a pH of about 6.5 to 7), most of the lead that is present in the soil will become bound to soil particles in a way that prevents it from being incorporated into growing crops. You can adjust your pH level if it is too acidic (under 6.5) by adding wood ashes (but NOT ashes from painted wood which may have contained lead) or an appropriate commercial additive. Organic matter can be added by using kitchen scraps that have been composted.


Washing hands with soap, including cleaning under nails is very effective for removing lead dust. This is especially important for children to learn so that hand to mouth activity does not introduce lead into their system. Make sure hands are dried thoroughly as damp hands pick up more dust! Gardening clothes should be washed separately from other wash loads in a high phosphate detergent (e.g. liquid sugar soap) and the machine thoroughly rinsed (bowl, surrounds and filter) before being used again to avoid cross contamination with the next load of washing.


If you are concerned that any member of your family may have been exposed to lead in their environment, ask your doctor to organise a blood lead test.

This is the only way to know if there is a problem so that positive action can begin to minimise health damage.

Please contact the Global Lead Advice & Support Service if you would like further information, details below.

This project was assisted by the NSW Government as part of its Lead Education Program.

你的院子是铅安全的吗 Is Your Yard Lead Safe? English

你的院子是铅安全的吗 html

Contents | Previous Item | Next Item | Disclaimer

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?


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

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 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