Information about lead and causes of lead poisoning.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Teachers and Kaiako
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Boards
  • Proprietors
  • Third Party Contractors
  • Parents or Caregivers
  • General Staff/Administrators
  • Public
  • Health & Safety Officer(s)
  • Worksafe Regulator(s)

About lead

Lead is a metal that is found around us in our everyday lives. Lead used to be commonly used as an ingredient in products like:

  • paint
  • petrol
  • batteries.

However, many of these products no longer contain lead. Lead was banned from petrol in 1996, and household paint sold today contains very low levels of lead. However, many older classrooms may still contain lead-based paint.

People can be exposed to lead when paint that contains lead is flaking and those flakes are ingested, or dust is present from paint removal. When flakes or paint dust get airborne and settle on soil, the soil can become contaminated.

How does lead poisoning occur?

Lead enters our bodies through eating, drinking or inhaling lead particles. Our bodies naturally cleanse most of the lead that we take in and it does not affect us. However, some people may ingest too much lead and lead poisoning can develop.

Young children are of higher risk of lead poisoning as they are more likely to put items in their mouths. Also, their bodies do not naturally clear as much lead when compared to adults who are exposed.

What should we do if we are worried about contact with lead?

Most of the time there is no negative health effect, but it is still important to be sure about blood lead levels in cases where significant exposure has occurred. Occasionally very high lead levels require treatment. 

If you have any concerns about exposure to lead, please see your family doctor. The doctor can arrange for a blood test to check the level of lead in the body.

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