General Lead Exposure Information

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Why is lead dangerous?
What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?
Where is lead found?
You can be exposed to lead at home.
How can I get more information?
Comments? Questions?

Why is lead dangerous?

Lead is a poison that serves no known purpose in the body. Lead enters your body when you swallow or breathe in lead dust or particles. Lead can be found in the air, water, food, dust and soil. Small amounts of lead can build up in the body and cause temporary or permanent damage.


What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

Lead poisoning can often have no symptoms – even people who appear healthy can have lead poisoning. The symptoms of lead poisoning are often mistaken for other problems.

Some symptoms are:

  • Fatigue Tingling hands and feet 
  • Headache
  • Memory problems 
  • Irritability Anemia 
  • Diarrhea / constipation
  • Reproductive problems 
  • Nausea
  • High blood pressure 
  • Weight loss 

Extreme cases of lead poisoning can result in: 

  • Convulsions 
  • Coma 
  • Death

Where is lead found?

Lead-Based Paint: Dwellings built before 1978 may contain paint chips or lead dust.

Lead-Contaminated Soil: Soil outside of the home may be contaminated by lead-based paint, and soil around busy roadways may be contaminated by gasoline used in automobiles before the 1980's.

Imported or Handmade Pottery: Ceramic glaze used in pottery may contain lead and leach into food stored or prepared in the pottery.

Take Home Exposure: Occupations and hobbies that involve working with lead.

Imported Candies or Foods: Candy, wrappers, and certain ethnic foods may contain lead. See the Foods Group Web site for a list of dried plum products with elevated lead levels.

Imported Home Remedies and Cosmetics:

  • Greta and Azarcon, which are usually bright yellow or orange in color, are commonly used in Mexican culture to treat stomach aches;
  • Kohl and Surma, cosmetics used in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East;
  • Alkohl, Bali goli, Bint al zahab, Coral, Pay-loo-ah, Sindoor; and
  • Nzu, Calabash clay, Calabar stone, Mabele, Argile and La Craie, which are used as a traditional remedy for morning sickness and resemble balls of clay or mud.

Jewelry and Toys: For information regarding recalls of jewelry and toys, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website at

Tap Water: Lead can be found in some metal water taps, interior water pipes, or pipes connecting a house to the main water pipe in the street. Lead found in tap water usually comes from the corrosion of older fixtures or from the solder that connects pipes. When water sits in leaded pipes for several hours, lead can leach into the water supply.

You can be exposed to lead at work.

If you work with lead, you can bring it home from work and harm others. You can take lead home on your clothing, tools, shoes, skin and hair.

Some jobs where you may be exposed to lead are:

  • Battery manufacturing
  • Radiator repair
  • Lead manufacturing
  • Construction / demolition
  • Pottery / tile manufacturing
  • Scrap metal smelting 

You can be exposed to lead at home.

You may also be exposed to lead at home through hobbies or home remodeling.

Some ways you can be exposed to lead are:

  • Home remedies
  • Ceramic or clay pottery
  • Casting bullets
  • Home remodeling
  • Target shooting at firing ranges
  • Stained glass making 
  • Auto repair 
  • Imported candies and canned foods  

How can I get more information?

Please call TXCLPPP or the Texas ABLES program at (800) 588–1248.
For information on how you can prevent or reduce lead exposure, visit the CDC's Lead Prevention Tips Website.

Last updated July 3, 2020