What is lead?
Lead is a metal found in the natural environment. The chemical symbol on the Periodic Table of Elements is Pb (number 82). Lead mines exist all over the world, however there are no active lead mines operating in the United States. Lead was used in products such as paint, varnish and gasoline, to make them stronger and more durable. The lead in these products can poison anyone who is exposed.
What is lead poisoning?
Lead poisoning is a condition that occurs when an elevated level of lead is found in the blood. No lead is healthy for the human body, but it is particularly harmful to children, pregnant woman and adults who have long-term exposure. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, reduced IQ and attention span, learning disabilities, developmental delays, hearing loss, and other health problems such as seizures, coma and death in rare cases.
It is considered as an environmental health disease because the majority of lead poisoning cases are caused by lead paint. Poisoning occurs by either consuming lead paint chip or breathing in lead paint dust. Deteriorated lead paint can also be found outside of a house on the ground near the house foundation.
Lead poisoning is the number one most preventable childhood disease. Parents can learn more about lead poisoning and how to prevent it here.
When was lead banned in paint and gasoline in the United States?
On September 2, 1977, a ban was issued by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission under the Consumer Product Safety Act officially prohibiting the sale and production of lead-containing paint, in addition to toys and furniture painted with lead paint. Under this ban the maximum level of lead allowed in consumer paints was lowered to 0.06 percent. Then in 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, Public Law 110-314 lowered the limit to 0.009 percent.1
Legislation to remove lead in gasoline in the United States began in 1980, and by 1988 lead was completely removed from gasoline for personal vehicles.
Primary Sources of Lead Poisoning
Below are the four ways that lead exists on the exterior and interior of the home environment. Lead poisoning is considered an environmental disease because the majority of lead poisoning cases are caused by exposure to lead paint in houses built before 1978. Click here to learn how to renovate homes built before 1978 safely.
Lead paint was banned in the United States in 1978 for residential use. Therefore, chipping and peeling paint in homes built before 1978 may contain lead. According to 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 72% of the housing stock in Connecticut was built before 1980, and 83% of homes built prior to 1980 contain some lead paint.
If you rent your home, you should contact your Town/City Assessor's Office to find out the year your house was built in order to determine the risk. If it was built before 1978, then safety measures should be employed, such as cleaning lead paint dust.
Chipping or peeling paint that is easily accessible to children is the most hazardous; this includes window sills, door frames, porches, exterior house siding, etc. NO chipping paint, leaded or not, is safe for your child.
Very fine dust is created from deteriorated lead paint and is commonly found on window sills or other high friction surfaces (surfaces that rub against each other, like window being opened and closed or a door rubbing against a door frame). Lead paint dust can be created during renovations on pre-1978 homes too. This dust them settles in your home, on things such as your furniture, floors, carpets, and window sills.
Always use wet cleaning methods, like a wet rag, to clean up lead dust. Any time you are disturbing painted surfaces, like during renovations to the home, use wet methods to minimize lead dust hazards in homes built before 1978.
Click here to learn more about how to clean lead dust safely.
Exposed soil around the foundation of a home built before 1978 may contain paint chips or lead dust from deteriorating painted siding, windows, or decorative wood work on the outside of the home. Safety measures include covering bare areas around the perimeter of the house by planting grass, shrubs, or by applying mulch.
Wipe shoes on mats or remove shoes before entering the home to prevent spreading lead throughout the home, potentially poisoning residents.
Lead in water does not come from the water source; it comes from lead in pipes or solder that breaks down and contaminates the water. This is rarely a high risk factor, as lead solder was banned from use in plumbing in 1986.
Click this fact sheet to learn more about lead in drinking water: Drinking Water Factsheet
Click here to view a fact sheet on ways to minimize lead hazards in your home to help prevent your child from being lead poisoned.
Non-Environmental Sources: Below are other ways in which someone can become lead poisoned.
Some ethnic remedies or mediations, known as ayurvedics, may contain lead & other heavy metals. These products are regulated as dietary supplements therefore, medical standards do not apply meaning these products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products imported from India & South Asian countries are the most prevalent in Connecticut. In general, 1 in 5 ayurvedics contain harmful levels of lead, mercury, and arsenic.
Learn more about ethnic remedies that contain lead, mercury and arsenic here.
Some products are used as traditional make-up or for ceremonial purposes, however these products are dangerous for a child’s health. Religious powder from India, eye liner from Asia, Africa or the Middle East and other products such as kohl, kajal, surma and tiro have had many recalls, due to high levels of lead.
Fact Sheet on Lead in Cosmetics
Imported Food and Spices
Food and spices may contain lead, even if it is not listed on the ingredients list. Food and spices bought or sent from countries outside of the United States have a greater risk of containing lead, such as India, Georgia, Mexico, and some African countries.
Click here for a fact sheet, including specific spices and foods that are at greatest risk of containing lead. Spices such as zaprana, turmeric and curry powder that were produced in countries outside of the United States may have dangerous levels of lead in them.
Leaded ink may be used on candy wrappers, and lead solder may be used to seal imported metal food cans in other countries. Be aware of the different standards of other countries outside of the United States that are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. Be careful when importing foods in metal cans from developing countries.
Jewelry, including but not limited to, necklaces, bracelets, charms, amulets, and metal clasps may contain lead. This jewelry is produced in countries outside of the United States, but may be purchased within the United States (commonly at flea markets, secondhand stores, or cultural shops). Please take caution when purchasing jewelry when the known country of origin is outside of the United States.
Learn about the jewelry recalls that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published. Click here for other recalls that involve jewelry.
Children’s Jewelry, Toys, & Clothing: Inexpensive jewelry manufactured in foreign countries have been known to contain excessive levels of lead. Jewelry may be purchased in stores and gumball machines.
Link to product recalls due to high levels of lead.
Adults can be exposed to lead in the workplace. Examples of occupations that may expose workers to lead include, painters, remodelers, contractors, and battery and metal recyclers. Recently workers in firing ranges and workers who use firing ranges as part of their job such as police and military, have been identified as being at risk for significant lead exposure through lead dust from their ammunition.
To avoid spreading lead to your home, change clothing, footwear, wash your hands and face, and shower before leaving work if possible. Footwear is especially important to remove, as lead dust is tracked into the home on the bottom of shoes. Also always lauder your work clothes separately from your family’s clothing.
Paints and Glazes: Pottery and ceramics that are imported from other countries outside of the United States may be coated in glaze containing lead. Over time lead may leach out of the pottery. If you are unsure of the origin of your pottery, use it as decoration rather than for cooking or serving food. stained glass artistry, ceramic work that use lead-containing glazes and home remodeling projects
Fishing and Firearms: Casting activities related to bullets and sinkers should never be done in the home. Making your own bullets and sinkers by melting lead and pouring it into molds creates lead vapor and can cause exposure to lead through inhalation. When using firearms, especially in indoor firing ranges, lead dust is generated from firing weapons and also when leaded ammunition hits bullet traps. Very high levels of lead dust have been found in indoor ranges and this dust may also settle on the shooter’s skin and clothing. Never eat or smoke while at the firing range, as lead dust that is in the air will fall on food and be ingested. And always change out of clothing and shoes before entering your vehicle or returning home, so you do not contaminate your vehicle and home.
Artificial Turf: There could be potentially high levels of lead on artificial turf. Lead is added to the coloring of some synthetic turf products to make the turf more vibrant and durable. Some conditions such as age, weathering, exposure to sunlight, and wear and tear may cause the surface of the turf to become worn and small particles of lead can be released. The only way for you to know if artificial turf has lead in it is to have it tested. The artificial turf surfaces at your child care program should only be tested by a licensed lead consultant.
Read more about lead in artificial turf here.
Lead is toxic to the developing brain of a child and can cause brain damage, lower IQ, harms a child’s nervous systems and is associated with behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Once a child has been poisoned, the impairment it may cause is irreversible.
The positive side is that lead poisoning is completely preventable.
Click here to learn ways to protect your child from becoming lead poisoned.
Homes Built Before 1978
Be aware of lead hazards present anywhere there is chipping and peeling paint, like on windows, doors and porches. Lead paint hazards on properties built before 1978 include:
Old widows and doors
- Only window and door parts painted with lead paint before 1978 present a hazard
- By opening old windows and doors, lead dust is created. You cannot see this dust. This dust can then land on your floors, children’s toys and all other surfaces in the home.
- Clean windows with a wet rag or throw-away wet wipe (e.g. Clorox wipe) at least once per week
- Chipping and peeling paint on porches present a potential health hazard. Do not leave children unattended on porches with chipping and peeling paint because they may ingest the paint chips.
- It is recommended that you place an indoor/outdoor rug, plywood or other floor covering on the floor boards of the porch in order to minimize friction, to prevent disturbing the paint.
Soil around the foundation of the home
- If there is chipping or peeling paint on the exterior of the home, paint chips may land in the soil around your home's foundation. It is recommended to install six inches of landscaping material, such as small rocks or mulch, or perennial plants around the entire foundation to create a boundary.
- Do not allow children to play in bare soil.
- Do not plant vegetable gardens or fruit trees within 3 - 5 feet from the foundation. Test the soil before you start planting.
Click here for lists of labs that accept soil samples.
- Resources for your housing questions Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window for all rental properties.
- Learn about ways to prevent lead poisoning here.
If you rent your property, there are things you should know:
1. A landlord is not allowed to deny housing to anyone because they have children.
2. Your landlord must keep the painted surfaces in your apartment in good condition. And he/she must work in a specific safe manner when making updates to the interior and exterior of the home if the house was built before 1978. Learn more here.
3. Your landlord is not legally required to conduct lead abatement unless a child under the age of 6 lives in the house and has one venous blood lead test result of 20 or two venous lead results of 15 to 19 within three months.
4. Your town can help you find new housing if you are ordered to leave your apartment and relocate. Click here Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window to learn more.
To learn more about your rights as a tenant, click here Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new windowand go to the left side of the page, third category down: Information from the Connecticut Network for Legal Aid
Or click the links below for more information:
Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants in Connecticut
Learn about landlord's responsibility with repairs Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window
Watch a video on repairs Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window
Healthy CT 2020
The Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is contributing to the statewide initiative Healthy Connecticut 2020 as one of the focus areas under the Environmental focus area Health of the State Health Improvement Plan. The Lead Program has committed to working with partners throughout the state in order to decrease the incidence rate of childhood lead poisoning to less than 3%.
Click here Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window to learn more about Healthy CT 2020
Click here Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window to view the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Dashboard
• Screening and follow up schedule for testing children for lead
• Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants in Connecticut
• Relocation For Lead Poisoned Children Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window
• How to contact your Local Health Department Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Lead Homepage Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window Opens in a new window
1 United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. (2017). Ban on Lead-Containing Paint and Certain Consumer Products Bearing Lead-Containing Paint. Retrieved from https://www.cpsc.gov/Regulations-Laws--Standards/Rulemaking/Final-and-Proposed-Rules/Ban-of-Lead-Containing-Paint-and-Certain-Consumer-Products-Bearing-Lead-Containing-Paint/