Lead can have many subtle, but detrimental long term health effects including problems with the heart, brain and rising blood pressure.

Lead is a cumulative poison and when inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin it is toxic to virtually every human organ. A single exposure can quickly be distributed and stored through the body where it remains a long term source of internal exposure.

Union Safe estimates 280,000 workers in NSW are potentially exposed to lead every day, with many unaware they they are at risk. Union Safe claims that 95% of lead is stored in the long bones of the body, 4% in the soft tissue (brain, liver, kidneys) and 1% in the blood stream.

Who can be affected?
Roof installers are among those who are exposed to serious health risks from handling lead flashing, as lead is absorbed into the blood from contact and inhalation of toxic lead dust.

Home owners and the community the health risks from lead contamination of run-off rain water for drinking have brought about changes to the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and State building codes to prohibit the use of lead in any roof system coming in contact with potable water.

Other examples of lead-risk occupations are:
  • Abrasive blasters and coaters
  • Architects
  • Building inspectors
  • Cable layers
  • Carpenters
  • Carpet layers
  • Cabinet makers
  • Demolition workers
  • Electricians Gasfitters
  • Glaziers
  • Plumbers
  • Painters and decorators
  • Metalworkers
  • Plasterers
  • Roofing contractors
  • Shopfitters
  • Tilers
The non-profit community organisation, Lead Education and Abatement Design Group (LEAD) provides some useful tips on protecting workers such as roof installers when working with lead.

However, there is a better alternative which allow roof installers to avoid using lead altogether.

Better alternative to lead, zinc and copper roof flashings
Lead flashing has been used on roofs for generations simply because there has not been any better solution. With the advent of Polymer engineering, new materials such as Polyisobutylene or Butyl Rubber mean that there is at last a better alternative to using lead.

With Wakaflex lead-free flashing, there are none of the problems associated with using lead.

Wakaflex’s inert qualities and non-toxic materials mean that it can be installed with most roofing materials and will not contaminate any harvested run-off water for tanks and grey-water systems and is therefore safer for the installer, home owner and the environment.

Wakaflex lead-free flashing is also lighter and easier to use than lead
Some of the key advantages of using lead-free flashing include:
  • up to 50% quicker to install than lead
  • lighter, safer and easier to lose than lead
  • 100% safer for the environment
  • use on roofs where stepped flashing is required
  • use for all wall abutments, chimneys and other rising parts of structures
  • suitable for all roofing materials
  • will not contaminate any water run-off being collected and used for domestic purposes
  • can be laid to professional Standards using only very basic tools
Wakaflex lead-free roof flashings are non-toxic and therefore safer on roof installers and on the environment.