Lead paint warning

Wednesday, 20 August, 2003

If you've ever laboured with paint removers, brushes, scrapers, sanders and paint burning equipment, you'll know just how tedious and time-consuming it can be to remove layer upon layer of old paint.

But aside from being time-consuming, this task may also endanger your health - and that of your family - if your home is pre-1970s.

Most homes with those beautiful old timber doors and window frames or mellow brickwork that was long ago covered in paint are certainly more than 30 years old.

But removing that paint can expose you to the health hazards of lead. On its website, Environment Australia says that before 1970, paints containing high levels of lead were used in many Australian homes.

Lead-based paint was used on a plethora of surfaces including window frames, doors, skirting boards, kitchen and bathroom cupboards, exterior walls, fascias and interior walls and ceilings painted with enamel paint.

And if you see pink or red primer under the topcoat, it's highly likely that both contain lead.

These paints can be particularly harmful to children and pregnant women, as lead can cause learning, attention, hearing, growth and behavioural problems in children. Environment Australia says that home renovators can create lead hazards without realising it and, if old paint is not handled properly, lead dust and paint chips can remain in the home or on the garden years after the work has been completed.

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