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Lead-based paint

Information for Queensland public housing tenants.

What is lead-based paint?

Lead was used in paints as old red lead undercoats. It was a common colouring agent found in white, yellow and orange paint.

In 1923 a new law was passed in Queensland to limit the amount of lead used to make paint. Paint made in other Australian states still contained higher levels of lead and was often used in Queensland. This is why lead-based paint is still a problem even though the laws changed a long time ago.

How lead-based paint can affect health

Lead paint poisoning is rare, but can happen when electrical sanders and grinders are used to remove paint. The sanding and grinding makes a lot of lead contaminated dust that can be inhaled or swallowed and may lead to poisoning.

Lead-based paint that is peeling, flaking or chalking is also a hazard to young children who sometimes pick up and eat it.

Mild lead poisoning causes lethargy, and severe poisoning can cause death. The greatest threat is to small children, pregnant women, breast-fed infants and pets. Lead poisoning in infants can result in impaired intellectual development.

Lead-based paint can also contaminate soil and other areas around your home making it an environmental hazard.

How can I find out if lead-based paint has been used on my home?

If your home was built before 1970, lead-based paint has probably been used. If your home is due to be repainted inside or out, a lead-based paint test will be done before repainting.

If your home was built after 1970, a lead-based paint test will not be done unless there is a good reason to believe lead-based paint has been used.

What to do if your home has lead-based paint

If your home does contain lead-based paint and is in good condition (not flaking or powdery) do not be concerned—thousands of homes in Queensland have lead-based paint.

If the paint is not in good condition contact your nearest Housing Service Centre’s maintenance section. We will send a licensed lead certified contractor to inspect the property and if necessary repaint or sand the lead-based paint. Do not try to paint your property before speaking with your nearest Housing Service Centre. 

The Queensland government would like to thank the Master Painters Association of Queensland for permission to use their information.