Lead poisoning is a preventable disease. Lead is dangerous because it can affect every organ system in your body. People, especially children can have long term health problems if they are exposed to lead. There is no safe level of lead that has been identified. Utah APPLETREE and EEP are working with our state partners as well as federal agencies, local health departments, and the public to bring awareness to preventing exposure to lead.
Children, especially those under the age of 6, are most at risk for lead exposure. Their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults. Their brains and nervous system are more sensitive to the damage lead can do. Babies and young children can be more highly exposed to lead because they are more likely to put their hands and objects into their mouth that may have lead from dust or soil.
There is no safe level of lead that has been identified. Low levels of lead have been shown to negatively affect a child’s intelligence, ability to pay attention, and ability to learn. Slowed growth, hearing problems, low iron levels, irritability, kidney and liver damage, loss of appetite, and fatigue are a few symptoms of lead poisoning. At very high levels of lead exposure children can experience a seizure, coma, or death. If you are concerned that your child may have been exposed to lead, or want to check their blood lead levels please contact your primary health care provider.
If a person is exposed to lead during pregnancy, the developing baby can also be exposed to lead. Lead can put the pregnant woman at risk for a miscarriage, cause premature birth, low birth weight, damage the baby’s brain, kidneys, and nervous system, or cause the child to have learning or behavior problems.
Non-pregnant adults can also be affected by lead exposure. Symptoms in adults can be fatigue, irritability, trouble sleeping, headache, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, constipation, nausea, and unintentional weight loss. Brain and nervous system damage, high blood pressure, digestive problems, kidney problems, low iron, reproductive system problems, hearing, vision, and muscle coordination problems can also be ways lead affects adults.
Children may be exposed to lead from many different sources such as eating food or drinking water from dishes or glasses that contain lead, inhaling lead dust from lead-based paint, eating lead-based paint chips, accidentally ingesting soil that has lead, or playing with toys with lead-based paint.
Paint - If the home is built before 1978, the paint may very likely contain lead. Having your home checked by a licensed lead inspector will confirm the presence of lead. The inspector will offer information on how to safely remediate the lead. Make sure dust, paint chips, and window sills are cleaned with wet methods so lead dust does not become airborne.
Soil - Children play in soil and are more likely to put dirt in their mouth or breathe in lead-contaminated soil. Take off shoes when entering the house to prevent bringing in lead-contaminated soil from outside. Prevent children playing in bare soil. Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips. Move play areas away from bare soil and from the sides of the house. Wash their toys, hands, and pacifiers often if they have been playing outside in or near soil.
(Much is the same as adults and children). Paint and dust in older homes, especially from renovation or repairs.
Candy, cosmetics, glazed pots, and some traditional medicines and spices from other countries
Certain jobs such as auto refinishing, construction, and plumbing.
Toys and jewelry that may contain lead paint of metals made with lead.
Soil and drinking water from lead pipes, faucets, and plumbing fixtures.
Adults are most likely to be exposed to lead is by workplace exposure in the construction industry. Workers in other industries and hobbyists may be at risk of lead when they work with metal, paint, pigments, or glazes that contain lead. Adults can also be exposed to lead through the use of lead-contaminated products such as imported heath remedies, spices, foods, pottery, and cosmetics.
Adults working with lead should wash and shower before leaving work, change out of work clothes and boots before coming home or getting in a vehicle, and wash work clothes separately from other household laundry.
Adults using a firing range may also be exposed to lead from dust created by firing bullets that contain lead. The same precautions for working with lead in the workplace should be followed by people using a firing range.
Lead testing is not a regular part of our activities. However, Utah APPLETREE with the Environmental Epidemiology Program holds a soilSHOP event at least once a year where people can bring in up to three soil samples for lead testing.
A soilSHOP (soil screening, health, outreach, and partnership is a community health education event where people can learn more about potential lead contamination in their soil and to learn how to prevent or reduce exposures to lead in soil. At the soilSHOP, you can bring in soil samples (3 per household) to be screened for lead. Information will be provided on how to avoid exposures to lead while gardening or playing in your yard.
For more information, please visit our main soilSHOP page: Utah soilSHOP page