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Media Release 5th July 1999

Government Policy Vital For Removal Of 
Hazardous Lead Containing Ceiling Dust In "Tarptown"

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Residents and contractors in Sydney’s hail damaged area are being exposed to hazardous dust built up from decades of air pollution fallout and other contamination. The ceiling dust is being released from ceiling voids and falling into homes during demolition of water damaged ceilings.

With the toxic cocktail of fine particulates, lead, cadmium, arsenic, asbestos and more, Elizabeth O’Brien of The LEAD Group, says "I challenge anyone to substantiate the claim that there is no health risk from exposure to the dust. Residents have reported that this is what their insurance company is saying to them in order to justify not paying for the cost of ceiling dust removal. Some insurance companies are even claiming that there is no lead in the dust yet every reported result of lead testing in over 200 Sydney homes has found lead dust. Typically, lead levels over 1000 parts per million (ppm) are encountered with levels as high as 20,000 ppm also found. Even 300 ppm is regarded as a moderate biohazard, though no safe level has been set. All lead assessors in Sydney recommend removal of the ceiling dust prior to taking down the ceilings. Testing the lead content is regarded as a waste of time and money – the ceiling dust is guaranteed to contain lead and a host of other heavy metals and allergens such as fine dust, animal dander, fungal spores and pollens. Yet the unprecedented exposure of residents of the 20,000 homes and the workers repairing the damage is raising the question – what is the full range of health effects from the dust? – there’s more to it than just the lead."

The LEAD Group is calling on the government to set a policy of removing the ceiling dust from the ceiling cavity prior to demolition of the damaged ceilings, so that the bulk of the ceiling dust can be appropriately disposed of or recycled for its lead content at the Australian Refined Alloys plant in Alexandria.

The just released special issue of LEAD Action News – volume 7 number 2 "Ceiling Dust and Hailstorms" brings together practically every known fact about ceiling dust in Sydney houses and combines the wisdom of hundreds of people struggling to contend with this issue, for the sake of the thousands of people, most of whom are unaware of the hazards, yet are just about to have their homes contaminated by ceiling dust.

Contact: Elizabeth O’Brien ph 9716 0014      ###

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Last Updated 09 March 2012
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