Where is Lead Found?
Lead is found in most homes built before 1978 in the form of:
- Lead-based paint — Lead-based paint is a hazard if it’s peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking. Both inside and outside the home, deteriorated lead-based paint releases its lead, which then mixes with household dust and soil. Even lead-based paint that appears to be undisturbed can be a problem if it covers surfaces that children may chew or that get a lot of wear and tear such as windows, windowsills, doors, stairs, railings, banisters, porches, and fences.
- Dust — Dust can become contaminated with lead when lead-based paint is dry-scraped or sanded. Dust can also become contaminated when older painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can gather on surfaces and objects that people touch or that children put into their mouths.
- Soil — Soil can become contaminated by flaking or peeling lead-based paint on older buildings. Soil near roadways may also be contaminated by past use of leaded gasoline in cars. Avoid these areas when planting vegetable gardens.
- Water — Lead can leach into the water at any temperature, but the amount of lead can be much greater when the water is hot or warm. Don’t drink or cook with water from a “hot” faucet if you live in an older home or think you have lead plumbing fixtures.
Other known sources of lead include, but are not limited to:
- Home remedies like azarcon and greta, which are used for upset stomach or indigestion
- Lead found in wrappers of some candies that have been imported from Mexico
- Lead glazes on pottery
Source: Adapted from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Runs better unleaded. How to Protect Your Children From Lead Poisoning.” August 1999.
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