Lead Overview

What is it?

Lead (Pb) is a solid metal that can be found in the air in a dust-like form called particulate matter.

Where can it be found?

Lead can be found in many difference places including:

  • Leaded gas (which is no longer sold in the U.S.)
  • Paint found in old houses and on some cars
  • Smelters - which are used in metal refineries
  • The manufacturing process of lead storage batteries
  • Contaminated soil and dust

What are the health effects of lead?

  • Brain and other nervous system damage, especially in children
  • Digestive problems
  • Reproductive system damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Learning disabilities in children

What are the environmental effects of lead?

  • Can be harmful to wildlife
  • Contaminated soil can damage plants

What can you do to protect yourself from lead poisoning?

  • Don't disturb, handle, or eat paint chips.
  • Wash your hands immediately after touching or handling dirt and never eat dirt.

To learn more about lead, check out the Centers for Disease Control's web pages at http://www.cdc.gov/lead or read these DHEC brochures: