FAMILIES must now foot the bill for testing lead paint in their homes after the State Government pulled the pin on the free service this month.
Queensland Health previously offered a Free Assessment of Lead in Residential House Paint Samples, a service costing $6700 annually.
But when mother-of-two Allison Wright rang to claim the service, she was met with confusion.
"When I first called they weren't sure. They said they had to check the policy and get back to me," Ms Wright said.
She was later informed the service was no longer available.
While Ms Wright said she was happy to pay for DIY lead testing kits herself, she was worried it might not be as conclusive as lab testing.
"If there's lead in the paint it's going to hang around the house in different ways," she said.
"It could be fine but someone needs to check."
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said almost 300 homes had been tested in the past five years under the previously available service.
"The service was recently assessed as being non-essential, as instant lead-testing kits for homeowners are available to the public at hardware and paint stores at affordable costs," she said.
"A limited service may also be provided to the public in situations where homeowners cannot afford to purchase lead-testing kits due to financial hardship."
She said any structure built before 1970 could contain lead paint.
But Ms Wright said she was worried other families would not bother to check for lead paint in their homes without the State Government's service.
"And the problem is ... I shouldn't be the one to pay that," she said.
The decision to cull the service comes after an Ipswich family accidentally exposed their children to lead after beginning renovations following last year's floods.
One child recorded a blood lead level of 22 micrograms per decilitre - more than twice the accepted limit.
It also follows the US decision to change the blood lead action level from 10 micrograms per 100ml to five, with side effects from lead poisoning including damaged IQ and hand-eye co-ordination.
National Lead Group president Elizabeth O'Brien said the decision to end the service was a backwards step for Queensland.
"It was a stunning policy reversion," Ms O'Brien said. "In these cases, prevention is everything."
Both Ms Wright and Ms O'Brien urged the Queensland Government to reinstate the free service.
by: Brittany Vonow
From: The Courier-Mail
Lead Paint was commonly used until the 1970’s in Australia, and is still used in some countries today. In Australia buildings painted prior to the mid 1970’s should be tested for lead paint prior to any scraping or sanding being done. In The United States buildings built prior to 1978 should be tested in the same way. Check with your local government what year high levels of lead were removed from the manufacture of paint.
If you are unsure as to whether the paint you are about to disturb contains lead, you can purchase a lead test kit from a hardware or paint shop for only a few dollars.
If you find lead in the paint we recommend you contact a certified
contractor to assist you with its removal.
Lead based paint is dangerous and should not be disturbed by anyone other than a professional. Paint flakes, dust and fumes from burning off or sanding the old paint are the major contributors to lead poisoning. Inhalation and ingestion are the main ways for people to get elevated blood lead levels. Either way the lead is absorbed and can accumulate in the body and if left untreated, can be fatal.
Common symptoms of lead poisoning are loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, abdominal cramps and constipation, headaches, fatigue, irritability, confusion, fitting, muscle weakness or paralysis. The people most at risk are the ones removing the lead based paint, occupants and neighbors if dust is dispersed, family members of the people working in a lead environment.
Children are most vulnerable to lead poisoning, and are at a higher risk and affected more severely at lower blood levels. They have a tendency to place things into their mouths, play more in potentially affected areas, and can absorb up to 50% of the lead entering their bodies while their nervous system still developing. Studies suggest that even low levels of lead in children can adversely affect their intellectual development and behavior.
For women during pregnancy, lead may pass through the placenta from mother to baby which in turn can affect the development of the nervous system of the baby as well as increase the risk of premature birth.
The only way to identify lead poisoning is through a blood test. A doctor should be consulted immediately if you suspect lead poisoning. Pets often show the first signs of lead poisoning due to their size and their habits e.g. (getting dust on their paws and licking them clean).
Once again I reiterate if you have lead based paint I highly recommend you contact a contractor that has lead based paint removal experience.
For more information click The Lead Group