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Is lead paint dangerous?

Lead is highly toxic, and can affect every system of the body. While teens and adults can also get sick from excessive lead exposure (especially if you work with lead in your job or you are pregnant), children under 5 are most at risk.

It is assumed that all properties constructed prior to 1970 may contain lead paint. Lead paint in good condition that is not flaking or chipping is generally considered safe.

A lead hazard is any condition that exposes you to lead that causes negative health effects. A definition of lead hazard is available in our Lead Paint Policy.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) have useful information on lead safety, including some fact sheets in other languages.

Am I in any danger?

The long-term risk of living in a home which contains lead paint is extremely small relative to other risks experienced in everyday life. If there is a significant lead paint risk, DCJ will not move tenants into a property until the hazard has been dealt with.

If a child under 4 is part of the household, DCJ will act immediately if it is aware of the presence of lead paint in bad condition or on a chewable surface that may pose a risk to children.

Is lead paint still used in DCJ Housing homes?

No. Since 1970, lead paint has been banned from use in NSW. Lead paint may be present in homes constructed prior to 1970.

What do I do if I suspect lead paint is in my home?

A large number of homes built before 1970 could contain some form of lead paint, in both social housing and privately owned homes. In most cases, this does not pose a health risk to residents.

If lead paint has been repainted with lead-free paint and left alone, it is harmless.

What do I do if I think I have been exposed to lead paint?

Let us know if the area you suspect has lead paint starts to show signs of wear or damage, like paint peeling, chipping or flaking.

After you make a report, a contractor will come to your home as soon as possible and inspect the area. They may take a sample for testing and if lead paint is detected, DCJ will ensure it is fixed and made safe.

If you are worried that you have been exposed, you might want to visit your doctor for peace of mind.

Are contractors trained to deal with lead paint?

All DCJ contractors must follow SafeWork NSW regulations when they handle lead hazards. Painting contractors who work on jobs where there is potential lead paint hazards must be appropriately trained in accordance with lead safe practices.

If you suspect your contractor is not licensed, or has not appropriately repaired the lead paint, please contact us.

We will ensure that reasonable and practical steps are taken to protect the health and safety of our clients, staff and contractors by minimising their exposure to lead paint, in accordance with the EPA guidelines and relevant Australian Standards.

Can I transfer out of my home if I think it has lead paint?

No. DCJ, on the best advice from NSW Health and SafeWork NSW, considers lead paint safe if it is left unexposed and unharmed.

I have been drilling holes in my walls to hang pictures. Should I do this?

No. While the possibility of this having any effect on your health is minimal, the slight chance still exists.

Am I allowed to repaint my home?

The residential tenancy agreement you signed at the beginning of your tenancy states that you are not alter your home in any way without the permission of DCJ.

Altering your home includes:

  • cutting into walls
  • drilling holes
  • repainting
  • making repairs.

If you tell us about any plans to do work on your home that might include disturbing lead paint, we may send a representative to your home to check the condition of the paint before you begin to make sure it's managed in safely.

If your home was constructed prior to 1970, you’ll only be given permission to paint on internal surfaces where existing paintwork is in good condition and the job doesn’t involve sanding which can make dangerous lead dust.

If the property was constructed prior to 1970 and the paint is in poor condition, it is not safe for you to repaint your home yourself. DCJ will schedule someone to come out and repaint the property.

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Last updated: 16 Aug 2023