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QUESTION: Removal of paint & disposal or re-painting of old lead-painted wood. 02 Mar 2004, New South Wales Australia

We have just bought a 1950's house and have found that anything painted in gloss has lead in it. What is the best way to deal with this - can we paint over it or does it need to be removed.

We are renovating the kitchen and the original cupboards are also painted in gloss paint containing lead. The cupboards are about to be pulled out - is there a safe way of disposing of them - we don't want someone collecting them out of the tip and using them again.

ANSWER: 02 Mar 2004

Dear Angela,

Please find attached, the emailable items of our info pack 3 on lead paint & lead dust management. The Rosen et al attachment answers your question as to whether old lead paint should be removed or painted over by stating that the expensive process of one-time full removal is the best step you can take in terms of public health. The attached Australian government "The Six Step Guide To Painting Your Home" booklet lists methods for both lead-safe full removal and lead-safe preparation for re-painting. Despite a 1993 recommendation from the National Health & Medical Research Council saying to: Develop methods for disposal of wood painted with lead-based paint [REF: Recommendations For A National Strategy from "Reducing Lead Exposure in Australia" - Volume 1 by Greene, Deni; Berry, Prof Mike; and Garrard, Dr Jan], no such methods have to my knowledge been developed by any local, state or federal agency to date. Within that policy vacuum, one caller to our service made the excellent suggestion that you could use a permanent marker to write all over the cupboards "Warning: lead paint - hazardous if sanded or burned" or similar, before disposing of them through your municipal waste. Just to be sure there's been no recent policy developed, you could contact your local council or Pollution Line on 131555 and this has the added benefit of advising them that someone is concerned about and eager to enact the policies they should be developing.

The relevant list of lead trained painters for your area is at Painters With Lead Paint Management Training - NSW or Painting Contractors With Some AS:4361 Training (NSW, Outside Sydney Area)

I trust this helps.
Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

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