Lead can be found in all parts of our environment – the air, the soil, the water, and inside workplaces and homes.
- Much of our exposure comes from the use of leaded gasoline, some types of industrial facilities, and past use of lead-based paint in homes. The consumer use of lead-based paint was banned by the federal government in 1978.
- Lead and lead compounds have been used in a wide variety of products found in and around our homes, including old paint, ceramics, pipes and plumbing materials, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition, and cosmetics.
- Workers and customers at gun ranges can also be exposed to lead when it is released into the air when guns are fired. Lead dust can get on your clothes, food, cigarettes, or other items that can eventually be inhaled or digested.
- While natural levels of lead in soil range between 50 and 400 parts per million, mining, smelting, and refining activities have resulted in substantial increases in lead levels in the environment, especially near mining and smelting sites.
- Welding steel or other metal coated with lead could produce lead oxide exposure. Cutting or welding on surfaces that are coated with a lead based or older latex paint may release lead or mercury fumes.
- When lead is released to the air, it may travel long distances before settling to the ground, where it usually sticks to soil particles. Lead may move from soil into ground water depending on the type of lead compound and the characteristics of the soil.