Property owners warned to watch out for lead paint

18 November 2013
Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Boards (DHBs) are warning property owners thinking of renovating or painting their houses over summer to remember they could find themselves removing paint which has lead in it.
Health protection spokesperson for the two DHBs, Margaret Tunbridge, says owners of houses built prior to the early 1980’s need to be particularly vigilant. Up until then lead was used in paint as a pigment and drying compound.
Mrs Tunbridge says as well as being poisonous to humans and animals, lead is a persistent environmental pollutant capable of causing a wide variety of symptoms which ultimately, can cause death.
“Because exposure is usually through ingestion and inhalation of lead-based dusts, the way in which people remove and dispose of lead-based paints is critical,” Mrs Tunbridge says.
“Unborn and pre-school children are particularly vulnerable. Exposure to lead affects the developing brain and nervous system which can result in mental retardation and behavioural problems.”
Both DHBs say anyone thinking of repainting their property should arrange to have their paint tested if they know it’s old. For a free, quick test to detect the presence of lead, and advice on how to remove lead-based paint safely, residents living in the MidCentral DHB region should contact the Public Health Unit on 06 350 9110 and those who live in the Whanganui DHB region should call the Wanganui Public Health Centre on 06 348 1775.
In the meantime Mrs Tunbridge says paint retailers can help their customers by making them aware of the dangers of lead-based paint and of the advice and information that’s available to them.
If a customer asks, or the retailer thinks from their conversation or purchases of sand paper, chemical stripper, primers etc that they’re preparing to remove paint, they can offer them a pamphlet or direct them to the Public Health Centres.