Lead is a metal found naturally in the environment as well as in manufactured products. It is one of six criteria pollutants for which EPA has established protective standards. Exposure to lead can occur through multiple pathways, including inhalation of air and ingestion of lead in food, water, soil, or dust. Historically, the major sources of lead emissions were motor vehicles (such as cars and trucks) and industrial sources. Due to the phase-out of leaded gasoline, however, airborne lead is no longer a problem in most of the United States. The major source of lead emissions today is metals processing and the highest levels of lead in air are generally found near lead smelters, waste incinerators, utilities, and lead-acid battery manufacturers.
Health Impacts of Exposure
Excessive lead exposure can cause seizures, brain and kidney damage, mental retardation, and/or behavioral disorders. Children that are 6 years of age and under are most at risk because their bodies are growing quickly. Research suggests that the primary sources of lead exposure for most children are deteriorating lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust, and lead-contaminated residential soil.
Renovation, Repair, and Painting: Lead-Based Paint
Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, which can be harmful to adults and children. Learn how to protect against lead hazards while performing renovation, repair, and painting projects.