Bare soil, dirt and dust are the biggest sources of lead exposure for kids in the backyard.
The best way to protect kids from lead exposure is to keep them away from bare soil, dirt and dust. In the backyard, if you can’t replace the soil or dirt entirely, you could cover it with:
- plants, ground covers, or grass
- natural materials including mulch or pine chips. Lawn clippings or fallen leaves are some of the best types of mulch.
- man-made substances like cracker-dust, pavers, concrete or astroturf.
If your yard is too big to cover all the soil, you could fence off a smaller grassed area for the kids to play in.
A sandpit is a great way of providing a LeadSmart play area for kids. Use white beach sand, and cover the sandpit when it’s not being used to stop lead dust getting into it.
Wash down or wet wipe outside play equipment and outdoor toys regularly.
When kids play in dirt and soil outside, lead can get on their hands or under their fingernails. Kids should wash their hands after playing outside or playing with pets.
Keep your kids’ fingernails short, and make sure to use a nailbrush.
If your yard is used for activities which may create lead dust or fumes, like spray painting cars or stripping furniture, do this away from the kids’ playing area.
Make sure any painted outside areas in the yard, like sheds and fences, are kept in good repair.
Trees, ground covers and tall shrubs can trap dust and stop it getting into your home.
There are plenty of local ground covers and plants that grow well in Broken Hill and don’t need a lot of water. Speak to your local nursery about how to create lead safe and low water use yards.
If you’re growing vegetables, the garden beds should be raised and good clean soil is recommended. Vegetables should be well washed before being eaten.
Rainwater from water tanks looks and smells like clean water but can still contain lead. Avoid drinking it, using it to prepare or cook food, or giving it to your pets. Rainwater and grey water can be used on your garden.
Always wear gardening gloves when working in the yard, and remove shoes before going inside. After working outside, wash well and change into clean clothes. Keep your gardening clothes separate from other clothing, and wash it separately to avoid spreading lead dust around.