Renovating in Port Pirie
Are you planning to renovate your home?
Renovators of homes in and around Port Pirie are at risk of being exposed to lead dust, paint and fumes.
Such exposure can result in an increased absorption of lead in the body.
Lead can affect anybody, but children under the age of four and pregnant women are most at risk.
Lead can affect children by causing learning and attention problems, hearing loss, slowed growth and behaviour problems.
Lead can affect adults too. Low levels of exposure can cause joint and muscle pain, high blood pressure and infertility. Higher levels (or lead poisoning) can cause memory loss and nerve problems, and very high levels can cause seizures.
Lead gets into our bodies when we breathe in lead dust or fumes in the air, or if we eat food or drink water that contains lead. Children can rapidly pick up lead through normal hand to mouth activity.
Small amounts can gradually build up in the body and cause health problems for you and your family.
Pregnant women and young children should not be present during any renovations.
Sources of lead
Households contain fine dust which has accumulated over period of time from industrial emissions, previous renovation activities, and current dust tracked in by residents.
Ceilings, wall cavities and floor spaces will contain lead dust. All household dust contains lead and can contaminate soft furnishings (for example carpets, lounges, curtains) particularly if not removed or covered with plastic during renovation activities.
Lead dust can form when lead based paint is dry cracked, dry sanded or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum, sweep or walk through it.
- Lay plastic under the work area to protect your garden and children’s play area
- close windows and doors
- warn your neighbours so they can protect themselves if dust blows their way.
Seal the area off from the rest of the house by:
- Covering floors, doors and windows with plastic and tape
- remove soft furnishings, curtains, carpets and other household items or cover them with plastic.
- wear protective clothing and equipment including face masks or respirators (P2 dust and fume)
- don’t smoke whilst working
- wash and dry your hands regularly, particularly before eating and drinking
- use clean area for eating and drinking
- all dirty work clothes should be washed separate from family clothes
- make sure you have showered and washed your hair before interacting with children and pregnant women.
Using the right practices
Start from the top and work to the bottom by:
- damp dusting all surfaces
- vacuuming carpets and hard floors
- damp mopping floors and change rinse water regularly.
Use a high phosphate detergent (for example, liquid sugar soap) which will help remove lead particles during the cleaning process.
If removing old carpet, spray the surface with water to keep dust down. Roll the carpet inwards, wrap it in plastic and tape it up.
When repainting, wet sanding and wet scraping are the safest methods of preparing the surface. Do not use open-flamed torches on lead paint as they create lead fumes. If you use a heat gun, use it on the lowest setting and do not linger in one spot for too long.
When demolishing try to minimise the amount of dust created. Use water to dampen down areas and surfaces. Make sure areas are well sealed. Use barriers to contain dust. When demolition is complete apply clean fill to area.
Roof and ceiling work
When doing roof and ceiling work, make sure that any lead dust accumulated in roof cavities does not fall into the living areas. Remove dust in the roof cavities with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaner.
The Environmental Health Centre loans industrial vacuum cleaners to community members for such tasks as cleaning up after renovations.
Thick plastic sheeting should be used for isolating rooms which are being renovated in order to reduce contaminated dust filtering into other parts of the house.
For further information on lead safe practices, contact the Environmental Health Centre or SA Health's Scientific Services on (08) 8226 7100. Additional information on reducing your exposure to lead is also available on the following pages: