Lead Exposures in the Home

Lead-based paint in the home

The most common source of lead exposure for children is lead-based paint.

The most common places to find lead-based paint or coatings inside your home are windows, doors, stairs and other woodwork. Lead is also common in kitchens and bathrooms, where moisture can be a problem. Outside walls, porches, columns, railings, windows and doors are often coated with lead-based paint, as well. Some places to look include:

  • Painted surfaces - inside and out
  • Old painted furniture and toys
  • Imported ceramics and pottery
  • Old paint and varnish on doors and floors
  • Chips & dust from outside paint including siding
  • Old paint on windows
  • Old paint on porches, railings and steps
  • Dust in rugs and carpets
  • Baseboards and woodwork
  • Bare dirt in yard

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Other lead exposures in the home

Past uses of lead in paint, gasoline,and other substances continues to contaminate children's environments through the deterioration of lead-based paint and other sources into dust.

Drinking water can sometimes contain high concentrations of lead from lead-containing pipes and solder.

Occupations and hobbies can also create lead exposures to children. Lead can get on clothes, shoes, and cars. This lead can then be brought inside the home, where children can be exposed. Occupations and hobbies that can create lead exposures include, but are not limited to:

  • Occupations:
    • Auto repair
    • Radiator repair
    • Battery manufacturing or repair
    • Bridge reconstruction work
    • Construction work
    • Plumber, pipe fitter
    • Police officer
    • Migrant farm worker
    • Printing
    • Glass manufacturing
    • Brass, copper & aluminum processing
    • Chemical manufacturing
    • Plastics manufacturing
    • Rubber products manufacturing
    • Steel welding and cutting
    • Industrial machine operator
    • Renovating or remodeling older homes
  • Hobbies:
    • Car or boat repair
    • Casting lead figures (toy soldiers, etc.)
    • Painting
    • Furniture refinishing
    • Jewelry and pottery making
    • Stained glass making
    • Lead soldering (eg, electronics)
    • Making lead shot, fishing sinkers, bullets
    • Target shooting at firing ranges

Lead in food and products can be a source of exposure. Imported lead-soldered cans, food additives, and some folk remedies can contain lead. Things to look for include:

  • Lead crystal
  • Lead-soldered cans (imported)
  • Asian cosmetics - Kohl
  • Home remedies - Albayalde, Alkohl, Ayurvedoc, Azarcon (also called Alarcon, Coral, luiga, maria luisa and rueda), Ba Bow Sen, Bali Goli, Cebagin, Cordyceps, Ghasard, Greta, Hai ge fen, Kandu Kushta, Mai gen fen, Pay-loo-ah, Poying tan, X-yoo-Fa
  • Food additives - Lozeena

Environmental sources of lead are also common. These include:

  • Burning lead-painted wood
  • Living near lead-related industries
  • Soil or dust near industries and roadways

Questions to ask about lead poisoning:

By the time there are symptoms, harm may have already been done that will last your child's lifetime. You can prevent childhood lead poisoning and figure out if your child should be tested. Click here for questions and answers about childhood lead poisoning.