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Reducing your exposure to lead

It is important for families to know about the sources of lead in their homes and avoid exposure to these sources. There are simple precautions you can take if live in a lead-contaminated environment, work with lead or are painting or renovating your home or old furniture or vehicles. 

Lead-contaminated environments

Lead-contaminated areas are old residential areas where lead-based paints were extensively use or communities with a history of:

  • mining
  • smelting
  • rail or sea transport of lead ore
  • high road traffic flow.

Tips to reduce your exposure

In lead-contaminated areas, lead mostly enters the body through the mouth, particularly when hands or other objects are contaminated by lead dust or soil contamination. In these areas it is important to regularly:

  • wash and dry children's hands and faces
  • regularly clean indoor and outdoor surfaces that children contact by damp dusting and wet mopping
  • vacuum with a high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA filter)
  • avoid babies and young children being present during cleaning or renovating
  • windows and doors should be kept closed on windy days
  • eat a healthy balanced diet with adequate calcium, iron and vitamin C
  • encourage children to eat in high chairs or at tables and discard food dropped on the floor
  • don’t use rainwater for cooking, food preparation or drinking (including making up baby formula or cordial) if lead might be present on surfaces used to collect rainwater.

Port Pirie

For residents of Port Pirie there is a dedicated Environmental Health Centre to help the local community reduce exposure to lead. See Port Pirie lead guidelines for information.

Working with lead

Lead dust can be brought home on hands and clothes if lead is present in the workplace. If you work with lead, your family’s exposure can be reduced by showering, changing clothes and washing private vehicles before leaving work.

What to do if you have been exposed to lead

If you think you have been exposed to lead, or may have lead poisoning contact your local doctor

Your doctor may recommend a blood test as it is the best indicator of lead exposure. This test will determine if further steps are necessary. 

Further information

For further information on lead, contact SA Health's Scientific Services on (08) 8226 7100.

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