The Basics: Overview
Take steps to protect your family from lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing in lead. In the United States, most lead poisoning is caused by paint in homes built before 1978.
Who is at risk for lead poisoning?
Children under age 6 and pregnant women are most at risk for lead poisoning.
- When children are young, their bodies are still growing and are more sensitive to the harmful effects of lead.
- If a pregnant woman has too much lead in her body, it can increase her risk for miscarriage (losing the baby). Lead can also pass from the pregnant mother to her unborn baby.
Lead poisoning often has no signs or symptoms, but it can cause problems with kids' learning, behavior, and development. Some effects of lead poisoning may never go away.
How do people get lead poisoning?
Paint in homes or other buildings that were built before 1978 often has lead in it. When old paint cracks and chips, it creates lead dust. Children get lead poisoning from breathing in the dust or swallowing the dust when it gets on their hands and toys.
Lead can also be found in the soil around your home, drinking water, and products with old paint, like toys, furniture, and jewelry. Learn more about sources of lead.
The Basics: Safety Tips
Keep your family safe from lead.
If your home was built before 1978, have it tested for lead paint. You can also use this Home Danger Zone Finder to see which spots in your home could contain lead.
Take these steps to keep your children safe:
- Keep them away from lead paint that is chipping or peeling.
- Wash their hands and toys often.
- Ask a doctor to test your children for lead if you have any concerns.
If you are pregnant, it’s important for you to stay away from lead paint that is chipping or peeling.
To learn more about preventing lead poisoning: