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Sources of Lead Exposure

Lead Hazards in Schools and Child Care

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.

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