This section provides information on non-occupational/unknown source of lead absorption notifications from 2014 to 2022. The data comes from the Hazardous Substances Disease and Injury Reporting Tool (HSDIRT). Data before 9 April 2021 relates to a blood lead notification threshold of ≥0.48 µmol /L. From 9 April onwards, the notifiable threshold was set as ≥0.24 µmol/L. While no safe level of exposure to lead has been found, these are the notifiable thresholds currently set by the Ministry of Health .
Risks to children
Young children, particularly under six years are at higher risk from lead exposure than adults because:
- their activities and behaviour (eg, hand-to-mouth) result in greater exposure
- their developing nervous system is sensitive to lead
- they absorb approximately 50% of ingested lead compared to 10–15% in adults
- their diet may be low in calcium or iron thus increasing lead absorption in the body 
Children with pica (a serious eating disorder characterised by repetitive consumption of non-food items) are more at risk than other children from lead exposure, especially if eating lead-contaminated soil or paint flakes .
Risks in adults
Lifestyle activities such as indoor rifle range shooting are one of the most common sources of non-occupational lead exposures. While lead-based paint on older buildings is generally well recognised as a source of lead exposure in New Zealand, there is less awareness of the risk of lead exposure from firearm use .
Prolongued lead exposure in adults can result in a range of psychological and physiological outcomes including depression, high blood pressure, heart and kidney disease, and reduced fertility . Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight.