What is Lead Poisoning?
Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is toxic to humans. Lead poisoning happens when too much lead gets into a person’s body by touching, eating or breathing it. Children under the age of 3 and pregnant women are at highest risk of health effects. Exposure to higher levels of lead can damage the kidneys and nervous system in both children and adults.
Sources of Lead
Lead is found in some products that are made in other countries and imported into the United States, such as children’s jewelry and toys, cosmetics, candies, and traditional medicines. Another source of lead is tap water in homes that have lead pipes. The most common cause of lead poisoning is lead-based paint found in homes built before 1978.
People who live near airports may be exposed to lead that is released into the air and soil from aviation gas emissions. Aviation gas is fuel commonly used by small aircraft. The goal is to eliminate the use of aviation fuel containing lead in the United States by the end of 2030.
Preventing Lead Poisoning
Lead poisoning is dangerous but preventable. Simple measures can help protect you and your family from lead poisoning:
- Make your home lead-safe
- If you live in a home built before 1978, have your home checked by a licensed lead inspector. If you rent, ask your landlord to have your home checked.
- If you see any peeling paint chips or dust, clean them up right away. If you rent, let your landlord know about peeling or chipping paint.
- Make sure your household products do not contain lead
- Regularly wash children’s hands and toys, which might become contaminated from lead in soil or household dust.
- Take your shoes off when you enter the house to prevent spreading lead-contaminated dust through the home.
One minute is all you need to find out if your child might be at risk for lead poisoning. Take the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s quick quiz, and learn whether your child should be tested.
If you think that you or your child has been exposed to lead, contact your doctor. Most people who are exposed to lead have no symptoms. Lead poisoning can be diagnosed through a blood lead test. It detects the amount of lead in your system. The doctor who orders the lead test will share the results with you and discuss the best ways to treat lead poisoning.
For the Public:
- Learning about lead and your health | En Español
- Talking to your provider about lead testing | En Español
- Additional information from CDPHE
- Lead testing recommendations and questionnaire
- Under the state’s reporting law, all providers and laboratories performing blood lead tests are required to report test results to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
- Additional resources from CDPHE