1. What products in the U.S. still contain lead, besides paint and ceramics?
Some products that still contain lead include car batteries, solder, some pipes, ammunition, roofing, industrial paints, some PVC, vinyl and plastics, brass objects including keys, costume jewelry, and X-ray shield materials.
2. How do people get exposed? Is touching these products enough to raise my blood level?
Just holding a lead object in your hands won’t poison you. Most lead is present as an inorganic compound and does not move well through the skin. Breathing in or swallowing lead-laden dust may poison you, however. Situations that could lead to lead poisoning would be:
Touching surfaces covered with lead dust and then transferring the dust to your mouth with fingers, food, or toys
A toddler touching the windowsills in a pre-1978 house with their mouth or fingers and then swallowing lead dust or lead chips
Inhaling dust during a home renovation project on a house built before 1978, especially when using power sanders or other work practices that generate lead-contaminated dust
Ingesting lead through gardening in contaminated soil around the foundation of an older house or garage, or in soil contaminated with leaded gas along older highways, or abandoned industrial settings
Drinking water through lead pipes – this is more common on the East Coast of the U.S.
Swallowing lead shot (shotgun ammunition), a curtain weight, or a lead toy and not passing it through your system
Inhaling fume from burning lead-painted wood or battery casings in home fireplaces
4. Are there ways to protect myself and my family from getting lead exposure?
Yes. If your home was built before 1978:
Assume that you may have lead in the house, or get the house and the soil that surrounds it checked by a professional
Damp mop smooth floors and surfaces frequently to control dust
Vacuum carpets and upholstery to remove dust – use a HEPA vacuum filter if possible
Do a monthly check to look for chipping, peeling, or other damaged surfaces, especially in window areas and porches; repair any chipping, peeling, or damaged paint or surface as soon as it is observed, then thoroughly clean the area to remove lead dust
Learn how to do renovation and repair projects using lead-safe work practices to avoid creating more lead dust or contamination
For your child:
Frequently wash your child’s hands and toys to reduce lead dust contamination
Avoid using home remedies that contain lead
Keep your children (and pregnant women) away from lead hazards and out of the area during renovation or repair projects
Don’t let children put objects in their mouths that were not made to be used as a child’s toy, including keys, jewelry, or dirt
Get your child tested for lead at least at 1 and 2 years of age - contact your local health department to learn more about screening recommendations for your area
6. How can I find out if my workplace is dangerous?
For more information about lead poisoning and workplace safety, visit the National Center for Environmental Health online at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh. For state and local health department assistance, you can contact CDC Emergency Response (24-hr. assistance during emergencies only) at 770-488-7100.
This article was last reviewed on April 3, 2012. | This article was last modified on December 16, 2015.
The review date indicates when the article was last reviewed from beginning to end to ensure that it reflects the most current science. A review may not require any modifications to the article, so the two dates may not always agree.
The modified date indicates that one or more changes were made to the article. Such changes may or may not result from a full review of the article, so the two dates may not always agree.