Risk Factors for Lead Exposure

¨      Living or working where there is lead-based paint. (In the US, houses built before 1960 commonly contain lead-based paint. It was banned in 1978.)

¨      Occupational exposure (construction, remodeling, smelting, manufacturing/recycling batteries or electrical components, metal recycling, painting.) If other people in your home work in these areas, they can easily bring home lead dust on their clothes or skin.

¨      Living near a source of lead such as lead mines, smelters or battery-recycling plants (even if the place is no longer operating).

¨      Use of alternative remedies and herbal supplements—especially ayurvedic and imported ones.

¨      Using cosmetics which contain lead. Even popular name brands like Maybelline, L'Oreal, Clinique and Cover Girl have been cited as containing lead and other heavy metals. Check out this online database to check all cosmetics and personal hygiene items: www.ewg.org/skindeep/.

¨      Iron deficiency or inadequate calcium in the diet.

¨      Eating non-food items (pica), especially dirt and clay.

¨      Practicing a hobby that increases exposure to lead: painting, stained glass, casting bronze, making pottery with lead glazes, working with fishing weights or lead figurines, jewelry-making, electronics where lead solder is used, glass-blowing with leaded glass, refinishing old furniture, hunting and target-shooting.

¨      Using ceramic pottery containing lead-based paint.

¨      Using leaded crystal to store food or drinks in.

¨      Live in or recently lived in a country where lead contamination is more common—for example where leaded gasoline is still used.

¨      Eating canned food that contains lead solder (not allowed in the US).

¨      Your home has lead pipes, lead solder, older fixtures, or those made from brass.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Environmental Health. Ettinger AS, Wengrovitz AG, editors. Guidelines for the Identification and Management of Lead Exposure in Pregnant and Lactating Women. Nov 2010.