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  QUESTION: Lead in dust in roof spaces near demolished Summer Hill lead foundry, 16 Nov 2006, New South Wales Australia

Dear Lead Group, My query is with regard to my inner west location in Sydney. Apparently a long time ago there was a lead smelter in the suburb and traces of lead waste/dust are found in the roofs of homes in the area. Neighbours a long time ago contracted a professional company to remove any traces of lead from the roof (internal). Firstly is this a known problem and secondly can you recommend how I can check and deal with via a professional contractor? thank you Stuart

Dear Elizabeth
thanks for the prompt reply this is very useful information we live in UK and are returning to our house in January with our 1 year old son, so we are very concerned about this.
When you say installing insulation (highly recommended), why is that the case does it have any added benefit of helping with this problem?
thanks again

ANSWER: 16 Nov 2006

Q1: Dear Stuart, the lead foundry that operated for some 112 years prior to the late 1990s in the top of the block bordered by Morris St, Junction Rd and Moonbie St Summer Hill was just one of the sources of the lead dust that is inevitably to be found in every home in the area. The other major source was leaded petrol which was used up until the end of 2001 for road traffic in Australia. There is no point testing the dust in your ceiling space if you simply want to know if there is lead in it. If there is dust in your ceiling space, then there IS lead in it. We advise people to move directly to safe removal of that dust (now that leaded petrol is no longer adding lead to it), especially if it is entering the living space through cracks in cornices, gaps in ceiling roses and downlights etc, or if you plan to install insulation (highly recommended) or demolish any part of the ceiling or roof or start to utilise the storage space in your ceiling void, etc. In other words, we recommend that there be no exposure to this ceiling dust. It is not in any way recommended that you remove it yourself. We recommend that you have it removed by a contractor who is a member of the Australian Dust Removalists Association (ADRA). We mentored the development of ADRA for this very reason and because the government refused to set up our requested licensing system for ceiling dust removalists. You will find all the details you need at
I hope this helps.
Yours Sincerely

Q2: Dear Stuart,
sorry, I should have said, due to global warming, installing insulation is highly recommended as a way of reducing your home's energy (for heating and cooling) requirements. They are only related in so far as, when you are installing insulation, this is a fabulous opportunity to remove ceiling dust first, and vice versa, if you decide to remove ceiling dust, this is a fabulous time to have insulation installed - all the ADRA member companies also install insulation because the two operations fit so naturally together.
Elizabeth O'Brien

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Last Updated 15 September 2012
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