Environmental Health

Lead the Fight Against Lead

Lead is a heavy metal found in lead-based paint, contaminated drinking water, contaminated soil, lead-glazed pottery, and certain industrial related sources. Although it was banned from residential use in 1978, it may still be present in structures from that era or before. Doorways, trim, window sills, radiators, exterior walls, and old furniture that had been painted with lead-paint are the most dangerous areas for children to come in contact with lead paint particles or lead dust. It can also enter drinking water by pipes installed before 1986, and by copper pipes that are joined together by solder. You cannot taste it, smell it, or even see it in water.

Lead poses a health hazard when small particles rub or fall off from surfaces painted with lead-paint, when it is present in contaminated soil where children play, or when it is present in the water or food at a school. In all of these cases it causes harm when particles are eaten, or even when tiny pieces of lead dust are inhaled into the lungs.

The National Center for Environmental Health explains that lead negatively affects every system in the body.  It can cause learning disabilities and behavioral issues, especially in children because their brains are still developing.  At higher levels it can cause seizures, comma, or death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 310,000 children aged one to five in the U.S. have a level of lead in their blood higher than the threshold where known health effects occur. Unfortunately, the Department of Health and Human Services states that lead poisoning can often go undetected without a blood test because there are often no visible symptoms.