Lead paint and your health

Lead-based paint in the home

Homes built before 1980 are likely to contain lead-based paint this is because lead is an effective colour pigment and it makes paint tough and durable.

Australian Uniform Paint Standard was amended in 1969 and the amount of lead in domestic paint was reduced from 50% down to 1%. The maximum content of lead was further reduced to 0.25% in 1992, 0.1% in 1997, and 0.009%, as of 1 October 2021 (anti-corrosive and anti-fouling paints remain 0.1% lead).

You and your family may be at risk of lead exposure when renovating, restoring or re-painting.

It is not possible to know if paint contains lead by its appearance, however, lead-based paint is commonly found on:

  • exterior walls, doors and windows
  • rooves, gutters and pipes
  • outdoor structures, such as fences, outdoor sheds and garden furniture
  • interior walls, doors and skirting boards.

When lead-based paint deteriorates, is damaged or disturbed, you could be at risk of breathing in paint fumes and small particles or swallowing paint flakes and dust – which can be found in places like wall cavities or under the carpet.

Managing lead-based paint

There are three options for managing lead-based paint in your home, depending on its condition. Details on these options and when they are used, see the Managing lead-based paint page.

If you have lead-based paint in your home, follow the six step guide (PDF 856KB) when renovating, restoring or repainting, to help manage the health risk for you and your family.

Rental property concerns

If you are renting a privately owned house and you are concerned about the condition of the house, or the type of paint used, you should contact your property owner or agent.

Useful contacts

Lead exposure concerns 

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.

Other resources 

Further information

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