General Lead Exposure Information


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Why is lead dangerous?

Lead is a naturally occurring element that is toxic to humans and animals. Unlike minerals and vitamins, lead serves no nutritional purpose in our bodies. Lead can be found in the air, food, water, and soil. Lead can also be found in many consumer products, such as glassware, jewelry, toys and cosmetics.


What is lead poisoning?

Lead poisoning is a condition that affects the entire body. Lead can be absorbed into your body through ingestion (swallowing) or inhalation (breathing). An elevated blood lead level shows that lead is building up faster than it can be eliminated from the body.  Lead poisoning affects your brain and nervous system, as well as other major organs.


What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

Lead poisoning often has no symptoms – even people who appear healthy can have lead poisoning. The symptoms of lead poisoning are often mistaken for other conditions or illnesses. Children and adults can have different symptoms when it comes to lead poisoning

ChildrenAdults 
Irritability Fatigue 
Belly painAbdominal pain 
ConstipationConstipation 
Hearing lossHigh blood pressure 
Loss of appetiteAnemia
Weight lossLoss of appetite 
VomitingWeight loss 
Developmental delaysMood disorders

Trouble concentrating/memory problems

Extreme cases of lead poisoning can result in: 

  • Convulsions
  • Coma

Where is lead found? 

Lead dust is the most common source of lead exposure. Lead can also be found in air, water, and soil. Lead is also found in products like cosmetics, toys, and jewelry. Hobbies, such as making pottery, shooting guns, reloading bullets, or refinishing furniture, also cause exposure to lead. People exposed to lead at work may also bring lead home on their clothes, shoes, hair and skin.


How can I prevent lead poisoning?

Preventing lead exposure is the only way to stop lead poisoning before it happens. Knowing how to protect yourself, your children, and your family is essential. Learn more on how to protect yourself on our Lead Prevention page and our Educational Materials page.


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 21, 2020