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.
About Lead Poisoning
Lead poisoning can cause health problems in the brain and the body. Exposure to lead can make it harder to think, focus, and behave. Some health problems caused by lead cannot be reversed or cured.
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.
Prevent Lead Poisoning
- Have children wash their hands often with soap and water.
- Supervise children to ensure they do not accidentally touch, breathe, or swallow any sources of lead (example: toys, paint, contaminated food).
- Get rid of any recalled toys. Stay up-to-date on current recalls by visiting the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website.
- Certain spices made in other countries may contain lead. Check FDA product recalls and safety alerts.
Follow a Nutritious Diet
- Eat a nutritious diet containing iron, calcium, vitamins, and minerals to help your body absorb less lead. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Beans and lentils.
- Citrus fruits (example: grapefruit, lemon, oranges).
- Green leafy vegetables (example: kale, spinach, turnip).
- Milk and milk products (example: cheese, soy milk, yogurt).
- Other iron or calcium-fortified products like breakfast cereals.
Practice Proper Hygiene
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- Rinse fruits and vegetables with water before eating.
- Clean toys with soap and water before giving them to children.
- Vacuum, dust, and wash surfaces and windowsills often to remove any sources of lead in your home.
- If your work or workplace involves handling lead or lead products (example: paint, repair/renovation, recycling), always follow safe work practices. Change work clothes before entering your home.
If you have questions on lead poisoning, call our Poison Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.