Lead paint and your health
Lead paint is toxic and can be harmful to your health, particularly for pregnant women, children and pets.
You may be at risk of lead paint exposure when renovating, restoring or re-painting, especially if your home was built before the mid-1970s.
When lead paint deteriorates, is damaged or disturbed, you could be at risk of breathing in paint fumes or swallowing paint flakes and dust – which can be found in places like wall cavities or under the carpet.
Follow the six step guide (PDF 856KB) when renovating, restoring or repainting, or you could be putting your health and the health of your family at risk.
Why is lead-based paint harmful?
Lead paint is toxic and can be harmful to people of all ages, but the risk of health effects is highest for unborn babies, infants and children.
Lead-based paint becomes a problem when it deteriorates or is damaged or disturbed, when it can be a significant health hazard. Lead from paint can enter the body by breathing in fumes and small particles or by swallowing paint flakes or dust.
It is important to remember there is no 'safe' level of lead exposure. All exposure to lead should be reduced or prevented to keep blood lead levels as low as possible. If you are worried that you or your family have been exposed to lead it is important to see your doctor and discuss having a blood lead test.
See the lead page for more information on the health effects of lead.
What to do if you think you have been exposed?
If you are worried that you or your family have been exposed to lead it is important to see your doctor and discuss having a blood lead test.
If you are renting a privately-owned house and you are concerned about the condition or type of paint in your home you should contact your property owner or agent.
- Office of Consumer and Business Affairs, Tenancy Advice(opens in a new window)
- Housing SA, Housing Improvement Branch
When the level of lead in paint was restricted
Before 1970, paint used in many Australian houses contained high levels of lead, because lead is an effective colour pigment and it makes paint tough and durable. In 1969, the Australian Uniform Paint Standard was amended to reduce the amount of lead in domestic paint from the previously recommended level of 50% to 1%. The maximum content was further reduced to 0.25% in 1992 and to the current level of 0.1% in 1997.
- Where you may find lead-based paint
- Safety precautions when painting or renovating your home
- Testing for lead-based paints
- Information for painters and paint retailers
For further information on lead and lead-based paint contact SA Health's Scientific Services:
- Email: Health.ScientificServices@sa.gov.au
- Phone: (08) 8226 7100