Lead and lead hazards
What is lead?
Lead is a metal found in the earth’s crust. It can be found in air, water and soil. It has been mined, processed and used in many products for thousands of years. When lead enters the body it is a poison and can be harmful.
Where do lead hazards come from?
You may be exposed to lead in many ways:
- Spending time in areas where lead-based paints have been used and are deteriorating. Housing built before 1978 is more likely to contain lead-based paint. Lead-based paint in good condition is usually not a problem, but chipping, peeling or chalking lead-based paint may be harmful to everyone living or visiting the house. Lead-based paint may also be found on toys, furniture and playground equipment.
- Working in a job or doing a hobby where lead is used. People who work in a lead environment may bring lead dust into their car or home on their clothes and body, potentially exposing their children to lead. Welding, auto or boat repair, making ceramics, stained glass, target shooting at firing ranges, furniture refinishing and home remodeling are jobs and hobbies that may expose you to lead.
- Eating food or drinking water that contains lead. Water pipes in some older homes may contain lead solder. Lead from solder is most commonly found in homes built between 1970 and 1985. When water sits in the pipes lead may get into the water. If this happens, the water you use for drinking, cooking or mixing baby formula can cause lead poisoning.