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Media Release 16th April, 1999.

Sydney Clean Up After Hail Storm May Pose Hidden Lead Contamination Dangers

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Just to add to the woes of the many Sydneysiders whose homes were ravaged by the hail storm on Wednesday night – a serious health risk may have been released in many homes.

Lead contaminated ceiling dust is in most older homes in Sydney. Normally it does not pose a threat as long as it is contained within the roof void. However, for those people who have had ceilings collapse during the storm, dangerous levels of lead contaminated dust may now have been released into their living spaces

This is of particular concern if there are young children or pregnant women in the household.

Carpets, curtains and other soft furnishings are almost impossible to clean once they are contaminated with fine lead particles. Families should be alerted to this problem and given advice on how to minimise the risk to themselves and their family. They should assume dust in pre 1970 homes contains lead unless tests prove otherwise. This fine lead contaminated dust has built up over the years in most Sydney homes from leaded petrol exhaust, industrial fallout, past and present renovations both in the home and from neighbouring properties. Lead based paint should also be assumed to be present unless tests prove otherwise. This should be considered if painted ceilings or walls have been damaged.

Clearance testing for lead should be undertaken after the clean up to ensure that the home environment is safe for family members.

It is up to families to be aware of these problems as not all insurance assessors and tradesmen have been trained about lead dangers and lead-safe methods of work.

if families are concerned they can call the Pollution Line on 131 555 or Lead Advisory Service (NSW) on 1800 626 086.

They should also talk to their GP about a blood lead test if they feel that they may have been exposed to lead dust. ###

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Last Updated 09 March 2012
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