Lead is a heavy metal that is common in our everyday environment. Historically it has been used in paints, pipes (including connectors/fittings), and gasoline among other places. Today, most industrial uses are limited to lead-acid batteries, a growing market.
Lead is a known toxin for humans. Health effects range from mild health irritations and decreased fertility at low amounts, lower IQ and emotional/behavioral issues in milder amounts, and seizures, coma, and even death at higher amounts.
Top exposure pathways (aka: sources of lead) include:
- Dust (created by soil, paint, or emissions)
- Water / Plumbing
Lead may also be in toys, cosmetics, food containers, and other places, but the above are the top 4 pathways. Paint is generally recognized as the predominant source of lead. People talk quite a bit about lead in water, in part because of the crisis in Flint Michigan. Soil is a pathway that gets less attention; however, there is growing evidence that soil -- and in particular the dust that gets kicked up -- is a significant source of lead.
There are no safe levels of lead for humans; any amount is a bad amount. Lead is also bioaccumulate which means that it doesn't leave your body. Small amounts add up in your body over time.
Top Resources on PublicLab.org Related to this Topic
- How to Test For Lead in your Environment
- Evaluating Low-cost Lead Screening Products
- Chemical/Analytical Methods Used When Testing for Lead
- How much lead is legally allowed and what government agency regulates that? (link goes to CDC/ATSDR website. Scroll to Summary Table.)