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Sources of Lead Exposure

Lead Hazards at Home

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.

Lead paint and dust in homes built before 1978

Lead-based paint was used in more than 38 million homes until the amount of lead in paint was restricted in 1978. Projects that disturb painted surfaces in older homes can create large amounts of dust that can endanger children.

child playing in soil


Soil may contain lead. Contaminated soil can be tracked into the home. Children may come into contact with lead by playing in bare soil.

Plumbing and plumbing fixtures

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. This happens when the water 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 parts made of brass.

Childrens' toys and jewelry

Mexican candy

  • CDC information on lead in candy

Traditional pottery

Home remedies and cosmetics


Lead dust from work can be carried home on work clothes, shoes, hands or hair. This lead dust can harm other family members, especially children. If a pregnant woman is exposed to lead, it may harm her unborn child.


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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