|WHERE IS LEAD FOUND?
On painted surfaces
Lead paint is the major source of lead poisoning in the home. About 75% of U.S. homes and apartments constructed before 1978 contain lead paint, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Lead paint can also be found on older toys and furniture. Children can be poisoned by chewing on painted surfaces or eating paint chips. Another common cause is lead dust which is released by peeling or chipping paint and deposited on window sashes, porch floors, and other surfaces.
In the soil
Soil can be contaminated by chips and dust from exterior lead paint, past use of lead-based insecticides, and other lead containing chemicals or objects such as automobile batteries. The highest levels of lead in soil are usually found close to the foundations of homes painted with exterior leaded paint.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that drinking water accounts for about 20% of lead exposure. The water can be contaminated through lead water pipes, plumbing fittings of brass and bronze, and lead solder used to connect copper pipes. The greatest risk is to infants on formula mixed with contaminated water.
Food can be contaminated if it is grown near sources of lead pollution, stored or baked in poorly glazed pottery (especially if the food is acidic), prepared by people with lead dust on their hands, or stored in lead crystal for prolonged periods of time. Leaded crystal can leach lead quickly into acidic liquids such as wine or fruit juices.
OTHER SOURCES OF LEAD
- Battery casings
- Antique pewter
- Dust from renovation, even from down the street
- Drapery and window weights
- Homemade or folk medicines and cosmetics
- Some porcelain or pottery (especially if imported)
- Fishing weights
- Dust or fumes from hobbies that use lead, such as stained glass or target shooting
Back to Lead Program Home