Lead Safety & Prevention
Lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth's crust. While it has some beneficial uses, it can be toxic to humans and animals causing health effects.
Where Lead Is Found
Lead can be found in all parts of our environment - the air, the soil, the water, and even inside our homes. Much of our exposure comes from human activities including the use of fossil fuels including past use of leaded gasoline, some types of industrial facilities, and past use of lead-based paint in homes.
Lead and lead compounds have been used in a wide variety of products found in and around our homes, including:
- Pipes and plumbing materials
How Lead Can Impact the Body
Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead.
Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:
- Behavior and learning problems
- Hearing problems
- Lower IQ and hyperactivity
- Slowed growth
In rare cases, the ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma, and even death.
Testing Lead Exposure in Children
Children are at the highest risk of negative health consequences from exposure to lead. All children should be tested at age 1 and again at age 2 to ensure there is not an elevated level of lead in the blood. Not sure if your child has been tested? Ask your doctor today!
Lead can accumulate in our bodies over time, where it is stored in bones along with calcium. During pregnancy, lead is released from bones as maternal calcium and is used to help form the bones of the fetus. This is particularly true if a woman does not have enough dietary calcium. Lead can also cross the placental barrier exposing the fetus the lead. This can result in serious effects on the mother and her developing fetus, including:
- Premature birth
- Reduced growth of the fetus
Lead in the Home
Lead may be in your home if built before 1978. Prior to 1978, lead-based paint was permissible for use in both residential and commercial buildings. If you have chipping paint or plan to do any type of renovation to your home, test for lead first!
- Childproof Your Renovation (PDF)
- Home Checklist (PDF)
- How Large of a Renovation Can Cause a Problem? (PDF)
Looking to do a renovation? This could include a small project like repairing a wall or replacing a window, or much larger, like a full room or house modification. If your home was built before 1978, be sure you are using a Lead-Safe Certified Contractor to protect yourself and your family.
- Find a Lead-Safe Certified Contractor
- Learn How the Lead-Safe Certification Protects Your Family - Video
Physicians - Next Steps for Elevated Blood Lead Levels
Ensure you are making the appropriate recommendations to parents and patients if an elevated blood lead level is discovered.