Banning Lead Paint

Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are hazardous sources of lead poisoning, especially for children.

Click to open this historic document from 1958 that was produced as part of a union campaign to ban lead as a pigment in paint.

The Struggle Against Lead Poison In The Painting Trade (24 pages)

by E. J. Hanson

The Operative Painters and Decorators' Union of Australia (Queensland Branch)

Lead is added to paint to speed up drying, increase durability, maintain a fresh appearance, and to resist moisture that causes corrosion.

Lead products in paint are toxic. It can cause nervous system damage, stunted growth, kidney damage, and delayed development. It is dangerous to children because it tastes sweet, therefore encouraging children to put lead chips and toys with lead dust in their mouths. Lead paint is dangerous to adults and can cause reproductive problems in men or women. Lead is considered a possible and likely carcinogen. High levels may result in death.

In Australia, lead was phased out from 1970 onward but is still allowed in paints, in 1991, the Australian NHMRC limit for lead in paint was 0.5% for domestic use. This figure was lowered to 0.25% in March 1992 and in 1997 was further lowered to 0.1%.

Listen to a discussion about the dangers of lead paint on ABC radio.