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  QUESTION: Lead Safe Renovations, 18 May 2002, Tasmania Australia

If possible, could you email me some information on the following topics please:

  1. Lead Abatement - Removal and management of paint and dust.
  2. Lead Abatement - Equipment. eg HEPA filter vacuum cleaners, air filters and respirators.
  3. Guidelines and Standards for removal of lead based paint.

I will be grateful for any information you can send me to pass onto my nephew who is stripping paint from a very old house and has a 6 month old baby.

Thank you for your help.

ANSWER: 22 May 2002

Dear Jan,

I hope you find the following information useful. Please contact us again with any further enquiries by phoning 1800 626 086.

You can access the Lead Alert: The six step guide to painting your home and you can purchase the Australian Standard on Lead Paint Management AS 4361.2 at or by phoning Standards Australia on 1300 654 646. It costs around $70 and is not as useful as the free Guide. If you use only non-dust-dispersive methods like wet-scraping and wet-sanding, then a properly-fitting P2 respirator is sufficient but a properly-fitted dual-filter half-face respirator with carbon and HEPA filters is recommended if dust or fumes are being created from lead paint. You may be able to hire an industrial HEPA filter vacuum cleaner from an asbestos removal contractor but they are hard to come by. Either the health department office in the area (ph Public and Environmental Health Services Hotline 1800671738) or the actual lead mines or lead/zinc smelters should loan HEPA vacuum cleaners for free to the public in their local area so if your nephew lives near such a facility, eg the Lutana EZ smelter (ph sw 0362784444), it is worth asking. Please let us know if you locate one for hire or loan so we can let other people know about it.

The Master Painters Australia Tasmanian branch does not train painters in lead-safe paint removal (Update 11 august 2009 The Master Painters Australia Tasmanian branch now has training courses, Painters With Lead Paint Management Training - Tasmania) but there are several paint contractors utilised by the department of housing because of their TAFE lead paint training (eg Mark Honeyman in Hobart on 0418373540) and some commercial or industrial paint removal companies accredited under the Paint Contractors Certification Program (PCCP) (eg TPC Painting Contractors Pty Ltd in Devonport on ph 0364249399) may also do domestic paint removal so it is worth asking them. TPC is PCCP accredited for industrial / commercial paint removal classes 1- 5. Class 5 is Hazardous Paints (including lead paint). If you would like details for lead-trained painters in your nephew's area, please call us on 1800 626 086. Enviroair decontamination specialists use negative pressure when paint-stripping with a HEPA filter on the air exhausted to the outside - phone 1300557999 - so your nephew may want to get a quote on getting the work finished by professionals. Enviroair mostly do air systems cleaning work for large corporations like Qantas, Holden & hospitals etc. but will do decontamination of lead & mould from residential heat vent or air conditioning (HV/AC) ducts. They customise filtration for the homeowner's needs eg they may fit a booster fan and high efficiency filter to heat vents.

Eastaway sell HEPA portable air filters by Honeywell (the type that are available for hire in every ChemMart chemist in NSW). Phone Eastaway on 0294394822 to ask if they are available for hire in Tasmania or ask your local chemist.

The best advice I could give your nephew is to have the baby's blood lead tested if the baby is already crawling or when the baby starts to crawl. Tell your nephew to ask the GP for a blood lead test for the baby and possibly the parents if they have been involved in the actual renovations or clean-up, but certainly I would have the baby tested. This is what I was told to do by the Environment Protection Authority NSW and I had my baby tested when he was 12 months old and I haven't stopped being motivated to do something about the high result ever since! It's very motivating. Then again, if the result is low - it means you can relax. If the result is high you may have to consider moving him/her out until the dust is cleaned up. If you can't manage to keep him/her right away from the dust by cordoning off an area of the house as dust-free while you clean up (using sugar soap on all hard surfaces and getting Elite Maintenance Service [ph 131580 or in Hobart ph 0362233202] to clean carpets, drapes and soft furnishings that have been exposed to the dust and washing his/her washable toys in sugar soap and rinsing them really well and tossing out any toys that have been exposed to the dust but can't be washed) then moving him/her away is sounding better all the time.

It is important to ensure that his/her nutritional status is as healthy as possible especially in regard to iron, calcium, zinc, Vitamin C and protein but also Omega 3 fatty acids. If the baby is still fully breastfed this ensures the best possible nutritional status. Even if the mother is lead poisoned, the baby will only receive about one percent of the lead that is in the mother's blood stream, via the breast milk.

Please call 1800 626 086 to discuss the blood lead results when they come back (it takes about a week). To reduce the pain of a blood test, you can purchase an EMLA Patch over the counter from the chemist and if you apply this band-aid over the vein inside the elbow for at least an hour before the blood sample is taken, the skin will be anaesthetised. Also make sure he/she has had plenty to eat and drink before the test and is wearing one extra layer of clothes than normal for the day's temperature. Take something he/she loves so you can produce it as a nice surprise at the moment of the blood taking.

Good luck and all the best

Elizabeth O'Brien

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