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Sources of Lead Exposure

School and Child Care Lead Hazards

The most common lead hazards in schools and child care facilities are lead-based paint, lead dust and contaminated soil.


Lead-based paint was used in more than 38 million homes and in child-occupied facilities such as schools and child care centers until the amount of lead in paint was restricted in 1978.


Lead dust is the most common way people are exposed to lead. Lead dust is often invisible. Projects that disturb painted surfaces can create large amounts of dust that can endanger children and employees.


Soil around schools and child care facilities may contain lead. Contaminated soil can be tracked into the home or building. Children may also come into contact with lead by playing in bare soil. 


Most sources of drinking water have no lead or very low levels of lead. Most lead gets into drinking water after the water leaves the local well or treatment plant and comes into contact with plumbing materials containing lead. These include lead pipe and lead solder (commonly used until 1986) as well as faucets, valves, and other components made of brass.


Outside play areas may contain equipment with chipping or peeling lead-based paint, which along with soil, may be ingested by children putting their hands in their mouths.


Lead dust from workplaces can be carried home on work clothes, shoes, or areas of the body not covered by protective clothing such as hands or hair. Lead can harm the health of others in the home, especially children. If a pregnant woman is exposed to lead, it may harm her unborn child. See the brochure, Working with Lead: Learn how to protect your health.


Some hobbies use lead. These hobbies include making pottery, stained glass, or refinishing furniture. Hunters who make their own bullets or anglers who make their own fishing sinkers can be exposed to lead fumes if they don't follow good practices. Fishing tackle (especially sinkers and jig heads) often contain lead.

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