Lead at Susannah Place

In Australia paint containing lead was commonly used in most buildings up until the early 1970s. These painting products are sometimes colloquially known as ‘lead paint’.

The original paintwork has been retained at Susannah Place as the many layers tell the story of the use, decoration and age of the four houses and contribute to their heritage significance and authenticity. SLM has an ongoing conservation and housekeeping program to assess and manage deteriorating painted surfaces. Public access to the houses is by guided tours only. The tours are designed to ensure visitor safety. 

What is the risk?

Paint containing lead is typically oil-based, such as linseed paint that contains lead compounds. Through our ongoing cleaning and testing regime and other control measures, we are confident that the risk of lead contamination from visiting Susannah Place is low for workers and visitors alike. 

By adopting the simple control measures listed below this risk can be reduced still further. However, the risk of lead ingestion has not been completely eliminated. Lead ingestion is most harmful to pregnant women and children under four.

What do we do?

Susannah Place retains degraded lead paint. The lead flakes can break down to form lead dust over time. To minimise this hazard, Susannah Place is regularly cleaned and re-tested for lead contamination.  Locations where lead paint is peeling have been identified and are subject to control measures which are designed to reduce the risk of human contact.

What can you do?

As the main means of lead contamination is by ingestion, avoiding hand to mouth contact can reduce the lead risk by 98%. There are simple things you can do to reduce the risk of harm from ingesting lead.  

  • Avoid touching walls, floors 
  • Wash your hands after visiting our museum, and before eating, chewing gum, or placing fingers in the mouth