Lurking Lead

The dangers of lead may sound like something your parents warned you about when you were a child, and may seem old fashioned, but getting exposed to too much lead is as real of a possibility as it was in the 1950s. Although lead levels in blood today is much lower than it was a few decades ago, new studies show that lead levels once thought to be safe and healthy are now dangerous. Here are a few of the most common, yet unexpected, places where lead may lurk in your life, and what you can do to help prevent lead exposure to keep your lead levels low and healthy.

Home Renovations

Alright this one may not be the most unexpected place to find lead, but any home renovation can stir up dormant lead, and you may be at risk of lead exposure during one. After 1978, all paint was required to be lead free, and although there were many lead free paints used prior to 1978, you should always assume you’re dealing with lead paint if you’re renovating a home built prior to 1978. Also, lead levels that were considered safe in 1980 are considered extremely dangerous today. During construction, seal off all windows and air vents and do a thorough cleanup after their work is done. You may want to bite the bullet (we’ll get to that later) and call 800-424-5323 to hire a certified lead tester. If they find abnormally high levels of paint, then you will need to hire a professional lead removal service.

Hunting and Fishing Equipment

Many old bullets and sinkers and lures carry unsafe levels of lead. Meat may be unsafe to eat if you used lead bullets, as well as meat from fishing lures and sinkers. It’s always a good habit to leave your fishing equipment outside or in a shed and not in your living environment. Also, you can always replace your old equipment with lead free bullets and fishing equipment.


When doing your gardening, learn a bit about the history of the soil beneath your feet. If you’re gardening in a spot near an older building, where a building used to exist, or in an urban environment in general, the soil may contain high traces of lead from paint or other products with lead traces. It’s much safer (and probably better for your garden) to use topsoil or soil from an external source. When gardening, use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly. Leave your gardening shoes outside, and avoid tracking additional dirt into your home. Wash vegetables thoroughly and peel the surfaces of any root vegetables.

Ceramic Dishes

Many dishware companies have been known to have their products recalled for having excessively high levels of lead. You shouldn’t need to worry about any dishes on the market today, but be wary of older ceramic dishes from the 1960’s or earlier. Never microwave older dishes or ceramic dishes and use glass instead. Any increase in heat can cause lead leaching, and microwaving dishes can crack and damage them, which exposes lead that was previously sealed inside.

Your Own Bones

Shockingly enough, you are at a far greater risk of experiencing lead poisoning symptoms after fracturing a bone. Lead in your body usually remains dormant in your bones, and a bone fracture results in more lead in your bloodstream that travels throughout your body. Other situations where bone is being replaced at a fast rate include menopause and during pregnancy. Women in particular are at risk of osteoporosis and should be certain that they are getting enough calcium in their diet.

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Charles Janick enjoys writing about environmental and eco-friendly topics. For more information on removing lead from contaminated buildings, visit PM Environmental’s lead remediation services page.

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