Reducing exposure to lead is an important health issue in Australia because lead can be found throughout our environment. We have provided advice to the community, policy makers and health practitioners on this issue.

Lead is a naturally occurring metal which is widely used in manufacturing. But lead can be harmful to the human body. Infants, children and pregnant women are at the greatest risk of harm from lead. 

NHMRC has reviewed the evidence on the health effects and management of lead exposure in humans. The review has a particular focus on low level lead exposure (blood lead levels less than 10 micrograms per decilitre) as there has been recent evidence suggesting that health effects may occur at blood lead levels lower than previously thought.

NHMRC Statement and Information Paper on the health effects of lead

The NHMRC Statement: Evidence on the Effects of Lead on Human Health was released on 19 May 2015. It provides advice to the community and to policy makers on this issue.

The accompanying Information Paper: Evidence on the Effects of Lead on Human Health summarises the findings of the Evidence Review and provides information on testing individuals for exposure to lead and the available evidence on managing individual exposure to lead.

We have also developed a FAQ resource containing practical information that people can consider to reduce their risk of lead exposure.

Managing Individual Exposure to Lead in Australia – A Guide for Health Practitioners 

The document Managing Individual Exposure to Lead in Australia – A Guide for Health Practitioners was released on 27 April 2016. The Guide provides health practitioners, including clinicians and environmental health officers, and health agencies with general information to assist in the management of individuals with elevated blood lead levels.

Further Information

Further details on the development of the NHMRC Statement, Information Paper and background documents can be found in the NHMRC Administrative report - NHMRC Information paper: Evidence on the effects of lead on human health.

Information on workplace health and safety standards for lead and information on occupational exposure is available from Safe Work Australia.

Public consultation

Details of key issues that were raised during public consultation and expert review can be found in the Public consultation: Summary of key issues and Expert Review: Summary of Key Issues.

Non-confidential public submissions are available on the NHMRC Public Consultations website.