frequently asked questions

What wind direction has the most impact?

High lead-in-air results in Port Pirie are strongly influenced by north-west to north-east winds.

The strong north/north-west winds blow across the smelter, picking up emissions and lead dust on the way, then deposit them predominantly in the south and south-east areas of the city. This is where the highest proportion of children with elevated blood lead levels live.

The strongest north/north-west winds are most prevalent in winter, so higher lead-in-air results are experienced then. There is also a big difference in wind direction and wind speed during the day and at night.

Is it safe to hang my washing outside?

It’s best not to do this on windy days when there may be more dust in the air, nor overnight when moisture may be present (which encourages dust to settle on clothing).

Can my kids play safely outside?

Yes, it’s certainly safe for children to play outdoors. Personal hygiene – like not letting them put dirty fingers or toys in their mouths – will help minimise any exposure. Regular hand washing as soon as children come indoors, and before they eat, is essential. Washing down outside toys and play equipment also helps to reduce exposure. Please also refer to the SA Health website for information on protecting your baby during & after pregnancy in Port Pirie.

What types of ground cover are good for keeping dust down in the garden?

Please download ‘Lead and Homegrown produce in Port Pirie’ fact sheet for further information.

Should I get my soil tested? If so, how do I go about it?

If you have any concerns about lead levels in your soil, contact the Environmental Health Centre on (08) 8638 4100 to discuss those concerns. The Environmental Health Centre can arrange to have your soil tested if it’s thought to be necessary.

Can I let my baby crawl around outside?

Please refer to the SA Health website, Environmental Health Centre.
For more information from the SA Health website on protecting your baby during and after pregnancy in Port Pirie.

How can I make my garden safer from lead dust?
  • By planting plenty of plants, ground covers and grass
  • By using natural materials like mulch and pine chips
  • By installing man-made substances like pavers and concrete, which can be washed down rather than swept or cleaned with a blower vac.
  • Through regular watering

For more detailed information on Gardening in Port Pirie view the SA Health website.

We have a sand pit in the garden. Should we cover it? If so, what with?

It’s recommended you cover sandpits when not in use, not simply to reduce contamination from lead, but also to prevent animals using it as a toilet!

Recommended cover options are reinforced canvas, vinyl or polymesh mesh, also wood. Another easy option is a clam shell which comes with its own lid.

What about SA water restrictions?

For more information please refer to the Lead Smart guidelines for Property Owners Fact Sheet (includes reference to rainwater).

How does lead get into the blood?

Please refer to the SA Health website to find out more about how lead gets into the blood.

What are the health effects of lead?

Blood lead levels above 10 micrograms per decilitre can interfere with the development of internal organs, in particular the central nervous system.

Babies and young children are particularly affected because their bodies are developing so rapidly.

Intellectual performance and general behaviour appear to be the most common and damaging effects of lead exposure.

living here

Living in Port Pirie can be like living in just about any other regional city in Australia – only better!


How to carry out renovations while avoiding exposing you and your family to lead dust exposure.

greening the garden

Making your garden beautiful, and knowing that by using bark chips, lawn or even gravel to minimise exposure, you have done everything possible to make it lead safe for your children.

expectant mothers

Protecting unborn children and giving them the best start in life is easy: just have your own blood tested during pregnancy.