WV Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Sources of Lead Exposure

Lead-based paint hazards: Lead-based paint found in older homes is still the most important source of lead exposure in the environment. As homes with lead-based paint age, the paint begins to deteriorate. Deterioration is exacerbated around friction surfaces, surfaces affected by weatherization, and areas exposed to leaks or other types of structural damage. The dust created when paint breaks down is easily accessible to children since it often settles on floors or bare soil where they are most likely to play. Renovation or construction work in older homes containing lead-based paint or other leaded material (e.g., ceramic tile, pipes, or glass) can also create lead dust in the environment of a child.

Take-home lead from occupations and hobbies: A number of businesses and industries in West Virginia use lead or lead products. By-products from these industries have been linked with elevated BLLs in adults and children. Parents or caretakers whose occupations or hobbies expose them to lead have the potential to transfer hazardous lead dust from their place of work or recreation to the car, home, or yard where it becomes accessible to young children or women of childbearing age. This type of exposure is called “take-home” exposure.

Consumer products: In West Virginia, consumer products containing unsafe levels of lead are a small yet concerning source of lead exposure to children. Products of significance include children’s jewelry, toys, vinyl mini-blinds, lead-glazed pottery, fishing lures and sinkers, tile, and ammunition. For information on previously recalled products with unsafe levels of lead, please refer to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website: http://www.cpsc.gov/.

Home or folk remedies and cultural practices: Some common home or folk remedies and/or cultural practices involve lead. These practices include giving children azarcon or greta for health ailments, using kohl or surma for face and body painting or decoration, and eating imported candies.

Hobby/occupational practices: Using lead-glazed or painted pottery, hobbies, and occupations associated with cottage industries (e.g., battery recycling, car repair) may be a source of lead exposure.
Other common sources of lead: Antique pewter, curtain and window weights, crayons from other countries, some colors of ink, some calcium supplements, old playground equipment, fishing weights or sinkers, wheel weights, bullets and hair dyes may also contain lead.

Food cans: In 1995 the United States banned the use of lead solder on cans, but lead solder can still be found on cans made in other countries that are sold in the U.S. These cans are usually made from three pieces soldered together. The cans usually have wide seams. The silver-gray solder along the seams contains the lead. Cans containing lead may be imported into the U.S. and sold. Over time, the lead gets into the food. This happens faster after the can has been opened. Foods that are acidic are more likely to absorb lead.

Other food items: Many commonly found treats may contain lead. There are some candies from Mexico that contain lead.

Mini-blinds: Some non-glossy, vinyl mini-blinds from other countries contain lead. To detect lead, purchase a home testing kit (available in hardware stores or by mail order/online). It is important to follow all testing kit instructions, and note that some testing kits' results may not be accurate.