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Lead Poisoning

Lead is a heavy grey metal that has many uses and can be harmful if it gets into the body. Before 1978, lead was used to make paint. Many old houses are painted with lead-based paint.

You can get lead into your body in various ways, including by ingesting or breathing dust from lead paint, ingesting lead chips, drinking tap water that has lead in it, eating fruits or vegetables that have lead on them from the soil, and eating food that has been prepared or stored in dishes made with lead.

Lead poisoning is completely preventable. The Healthy Homes and Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program coordinates statewide efforts to eliminate lead poisoning and reduce lead exposure. (more)

Sources of Exposure

Lead can be found in many places around a home, such as in peeling and chipping lead paint, dust from lead paint, soil and dirt in the yard, tap water from lead pipes, and pottery, crystal, or ceramic dishes. (more) The most prevalent exposure in Rhode Island comes from lead-based paint and paint dust found in residences built before 1978.

Populations at Risk

Anyone can get lead poisoned. However, lead is most dangerous to children younger than six years old. Young children put their hands, toys and other things in their mouths. Any of these objects could have lead dust on them.

Lead poisoned children are likely to suffer life-long consequences. Even a small amount of lead can have a negative effect on a child's development and can cause serious health problems, including learning disabilities, loss of IQ, and reduced attention span. Fortunately, parents can take actions to protect children from lead poisoning. (more)

Most adult lead poisoning comes from lead exposure in the workplace. Occupations with common lead exposure include renovation and repair, marine craft building and restoration, and manufacturing. The Department offers free and confidential assistance to help employers follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations and minimize employee exposure to lead.