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QUESTION: Can lead paint be used on Historic Buildings in Australia? 19/10/09 Scotland, UK - United Kingdom

I have just now researched the issue of lead paint toxicology for the last 2 months or so I am frankly dismayed that we still give automatic permission - on certification - for the use of lead paint on Grade 1 and II star buildings in England and Wales, Category A in Scotland.

Can lead paint be used on Historic Buildings in Australia?

ANSWER: Oct 20 2009

Dear Robert,

you raise some excellent points. To my knowledge, until 1st January 2010 it is still legal to import lead paint into Australia, even for a residence, IF the building is classified as a heritage building. This is, I'm told, because heritage architects follow the Burra Charter which has, up until the new law (developed by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme - NICNAS), been a law unto itself, demanding that like material be used in the refurbishment of heritage buildings.

I'm really hopeful that the new Australian law will put a stop to this ridiculous and in my view, criminal Burra-Charter-worship which has gone on for way too long. Heritage-"like-material"-fanatics need to resign themselves to a world where we stop using toxic building materials when non-toxic alternatives have been available for decades. The trouble as I see it is that even the new law won't stop importation of painted components painted with lead paint - it only stops the importation of lead paint itself (for any purpose) and the individual lead compounds used to make leaded paints (and inks).

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien

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