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Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health


Lead absorption from other than occupational sources is a condition which is notifiable to the Medical Officer of Health under the Health Act 1956. The levels of blood lead which are required to be notified in New Zealand are ‘lead absorption equal to or in excess of 0.48 µmol/l’ (10 µg/dl).

While the guidelines are applicable for any age, there is an emphasis on measures for managing cases of lead-exposed children. Originally published in 1998, the 2007 revised guidelines were updated to take into account developments in the management of lead exposure in New Zealand and internationally.

This 2012 revised edition builds on the 1998 and 2007 editions. It focuses on lead in soil, highlighting the new Resource Management (National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health) Regulations 2011, which came into effect in January 2012, and the revised Department of Labour notification blood lead levels. Two new appendices (7 and 8) have been added in relation to minimising lead exposure in indoor shooting ranges.

This protocol assists public health units in identifying all contributory lead hazards and (open) exposure pathways using a combination of interview, visual observation, and laboratory testing. A management plan, typically incorporating both behavioural (educational) and environmental (abatement) strategies, can then be developed in consultation with the family. It must be emphasised that the guidelines aim to provide a ‘lead-safe’ environment; this is not the same as a lead-free environment.

Properly applied, the guidelines help with determining:

  • the risk of a lead hazard
  • appropriate advice on managing the risk, including risk communication.

These guidelines exclude places of work, and ambient (outside) air.