FAQ

Lead and your health

Please Click here to download 'Lead and your health' Fact Sheet

What wind direction has the most impact?

High lead-in-air results in Port Pirie are strongly influenced by north-west to north-east winds.

The strong north/north-west winds blow across the smelter, picking up emissions and lead dust on the way, then deposit them predominantly in the south and south-east areas of the city. This is where the highest proportion of children with elevated blood lead levels live.

The strongest north/north-west winds are most prevalent in winter, so higher lead-in-air results are experienced then. There is also a big difference in wind direction and wind speed during the day and at night.

Is it safe to hang my washing outside?

It's best not to do this on windy days when there may be more dust in the air, nor overnight when moisture may be present (which encourages dust to settle on clothing).

Can I drink rainwater?

Please refer to the South Australian Health website, please Click here

Can my kids play safely outside?

Yes, it's certainly safe for children to play outdoors. Personal hygiene – like not letting them put dirty fingers or toys in their mouths – will help minimise any exposure. Regular hand washing as soon as children come indoors, and before they eat, is essential. Washing down outside toys and play equipment also helps to reduce exposure. Please also refer to the South Australian Health website for information on protecting your baby during & after pregnancy in Port Pirie, please Click here

What types of ground cover are good for keeping dust down in the garden?

Please Click here to download 'Lead and Home grown produce in Port Pirie' fact sheet.

Should I get my soil tested? If so, how do I go about it?

If you have any concerns about lead levels in your soil, contact the Environmental Health Centre on (08) 8638 4100 to discuss those concerns. The Environmental Health Centre can arrange to have your soil tested if it's thought to be necessary.

Can I let my baby crawl around outside?

Please refer to the South Australian Health website, Environmental Health Centre link - Click Here
For more information from the South Australian Health website on protecting your baby during and after pregnancy in Port Pirie, please Click here

How can I make my garden safer from lead dust?

  • By planting plenty of plants, ground covers and grass
  • By using natural materials like mulch and pine chips
  • By installing man-made substances like pavers and concrete, which can be washed down rather than swept or cleaned with a blower vac.
  • Through regular watering
For more detailed information on Gardening in Port Pirie go to the SA Health website here 

We have a sand pit in the garden. Should we cover it? If so, what with?

It's recommended you cover sandpits when not in use, not simply to reduce contamination from lead, but also to prevent animals using it as a toilet!

Recommended cover options are reinforced canvas, vinyl or polymesh mesh, also wood. Another easy option is a clam shell which comes with its own lid.

What about SA water restrictions?

For more information please refer to the Lead Smart guidelines for Property Owners Fact Sheet (includes reference to rainwater). Please Click here

How does lead get into the blood?

Please refer to the South Australian Health website, Click here

What are the health effects of lead?

Blood lead levels above 10 micrograms per decilitre can interfere with the development of internal organs, in particular the central nervous system.

Babies and young children are particularly affected because their bodies are developing so rapidly.

Intellectual performance and general behaviour appear to be the most common and damaging effects of lead exposure.

I'm pregnant. Is there anything I should do?

The first thing to understand is that your growing baby will be born with exactly the same blood lead level as you have yourself. So it's important to have a test as soon as practicable after being advised that you're pregnant, and then to have another test further into your pregnancy. That way your lead level can be closely monitored.

If your blood lead level is of concern, the Environmental Health Centre and your GP will work through ways to reduce it.

For more detailed information about protecting your baby during pregnancy and after in Port Pirie please click here

How do i protect my baby during and after pregnancy in Port Pirie?

Please refer to the South Australian Health website, click here

Where can I go to get my child's blood lead level tested?

Please refer to the South Australian Health website, Environmental Health Centre link - Click Here

How often should my children be tested?

Please refer to the South Australian Health website, Click here

What is involved in testing?

Please refer to the South Australian Health website, Click here

Someone said I shouldn't wear shoes in the house. Is this correct?

Shoes can carry lead dust into the house, and onto the carpets and floors. So if you have young children who sometimes play on the floor, it's certainly a good idea to always leave your shoes outside.

What type of floor coverings should I have?

Please refer to the South Australian Health website, please Click here

Can I get my carpets cleaned?

Please refer to the South Australian Health website, Environmental Health Centre link - Click Here

What type of vacuum cleaner should I use?

Preferably, one with a Hepa filter. Many children love to sit on the vacuum cleaner while it's being used. We recommend that you don't allow this as vacuuming causes the dust to rise, so exposing children to increased levels.

In fact it's best to keep children out of the room while you're vacuuming, or at the very least put them in a high chair.

What about water restrictions? How can I green my garden if I can't use water?

Please refer to the South Australian Health website, please Click here