Lead Around the World

There are great differences around the world in the way the issue of lead contamination is approached. This section aims to highlight just how wide the variation is between countries.

Around the world there is great variance in legislative control of lead paint as shown in the UN map (supply link).  According to the UN only 30% of countries have laws in place.

United Kingdom 

The UK government was early to identify and legislate for the lead problem, with the Control of Lead at Work act (ClaW 1998 and then 2002), but has not made any real effort to develop this further, particularly beyond the workplace.  In the UK it is the job of the HSE to monitor workplace practices and infringements of legislation, but there is no similar responsibility for residential situations.  Those most at risk from lead in paint dust, flakes and chips are children.

Other countries and organisations are more prescriptive with higher standards for Lead exposure and the presence of lead in-situ. There are many research papers highlighting the impact to children of lead exposure.

United Nations

The UN has various initiatives including the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (GAELP).


The EU has standards for maximum blood lead levels, however certain counties have stricter national standards.


The French have strict legislation for residential property built before the 1st January 1949. It is the owner’s responsibility to commission a full lead report before selling the property.  Known as a ‘CREP’ survey (‘Constat de risque d’exposition au plomb’ ) it is carried out by certified inspection professionals and covers all painted surfaces and paintwork found on the property both inside and out.  The certificate is valid for 12 months.

USA & Canada

The US have strict legislation for residential and commercial properties

The United States banned the manufacture of lead-based house paint in 1978 due to health concerns.  Additional regulations regarding lead abatement, testing and related issues have been issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA have various ongoing initiatives to test at risk children


Paint containing lead was widely used in many Australian homes prior to 1970.

The recommended amount of lead in domestic paint has declined from 50 per cent before 1965, to 1 per cent in 1965. In 1992, it was reduced to 0.25 per cent, and in 1997 it was further reduced to 0.1 per cent.  In December 2017, a new Australian Standard was published for management of lead paint in buildings which saw a major change in the safe concentration standard, which was reduced from 1.0% lead down to 0.1%.  The Standard now reflects the paint manufacturing definition of lead-free which has been 0.1% concentration since 1997.

General Background Resources

This is a small selection of articles and documents on different aspects of lead 


World Authorities in Lead

Around the world the response to the lead issue varies enormously.


Looking to find out about lead health risks?

Lead is highly toxic and widespread in our environment. There is no safe level of lead!