How Do Children Get Exposed to Lead?

Lead exposure at a young age can cause irreparable damage to a child’s health.

The CDC warns parents and childcare providers that lead could damage kids’ brains, slow development, cause behavioral problems and impair their hearing or speech.

While lead also poses a threat to adults, it is much lower and adults are less likely to experience serious side effects.

Many lead exposure prevention efforts are focused on children due to the increased health concerns.

This dangerous substance can be found in places such as drinking water, wall paint and the air you breathe. It’s important to understand where children can come into contact with lead and learn how to avoid it.

Common Sources of Lead


Homes were often painted with lead-based materials until bans were put in place in 1978. However, houses built before 1978 are often found to still have lead in the paint. This becomes a health risk as the paint chips and becomes dusty. Kids are especially at risk if they chew on surfaces such as trim and windowsills.


Lead has been found in soils due to leaded gasoline deposits, paint falling from buildings and industrial pollution. According to the CDC, children are more prone to exposure through soil due to their tendencies to put their hands in their mouths.

Drinking Water

Old and deteriorating pipes can contaminate drinking water with lead. There are still many older homes and buildings with lead pipes. In addition, some cities may utilize lead service pipes that can lead to contamination.


Evidence of lead has been found in several different kinds of candy. Over time, health departments and poison centers have worked to identify candies and wrappers that may contain lead. California has a list of candies that have been recalled over the years due to lead. Most of the candies are from more obscure brands or were imported from other countries including India, Hong Kong and China.


Lead has been found in metal, plastic and paints used to make children’s toys. The CDC has found that lead is more common in imported and antique toys. It is also commonly used in toy jewelry. Kids prone to chewing or sucking on toys should be kept away from pieces that could potentially contain lead.


Many traditional or folk style pottery used to contain lead glazing. This glazing can contaminate food or beverages served on the pottery. The FDA states that the leaching of lead into food from pottery is typically only an issue if the glaze is not set at the proper temperatures.

Lead Testing to Prevent Dangerous Exposures

As children are developing, lead can pose serious risks to their health. It’s crucial that they are not exposed to lead during infancy or their early years.

There is no safe level of lead for children to consume. That’s why many households and businesses rely on lead testing to ensure buildings are safe for children.

EHS Laboratories’ Lead Lab supports a wide variety of testing, regardless of size, scope or complexity. Our lab is accredited to test samples from across the United States.

Our team also partners with school districts and childcare facilities to test drinking water for lead.

Contact EHS today to learn more about our options for lead testing.