Lead poisoning occurs when you breathe in or swallow a substance containing lead. For example, you can get poisoned by swallowing lead paint chips. Even a small amount of lead exposure is harmful, especially over a long period of time. While lead can cause severe health problems in the brain and the body, lead poisoning is preventable.
Common Sources of Lead
- Homes or buildings built before 1978 might contain lead-based paint.
- Homes or buildings might have water pipes that contain lead.
- Contaminated dust, food, soil, surfaces, and water.
- Some imported items like ceramics, cosmetics, jewelry, and toys.
Common Health Risks
- Slowed growth and development.
- Damage to the brain and nervous system.
- Damage to the kidneys, stomach, and other organs.
- Problems in behavior, learning, hearing, speech, and reproduction.
Take Action to Stay Lead-Safe
- Ask your doctor if testing for lead is right for you.
- Children and adults—including pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant—should consult with their doctor first before getting tested.
- Children may have lead poisoning even when they appear healthy.
- Contact your local health department about testing paint and dust in your home for lead.
- If you have questions on lead poisoning, call our Poison Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.