Lead Dangers Lurk in Unexpected Places

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Lead exposure isn’t something that most people worry about today. A century ago, maybe, but not today. What most people don’t know, however, is that lead is still surprisingly common and hides in places you might not expect. Recent lead paint scares, for example, have shown that lead is still widely used today and that a dangerous dose is not actually that difficult to come by. Here are seven places lead may be lurking and what to do about it:

  1. Brass plumbing – If you live in a home built before 1986, you probably have lead in your plumbing. Even if you live in a home built after 1986, you might still be in dangers, as anything made of metal that is less than 8% lead can be labeled as lead-free. You’re going to want to test your water for lead and if you test positively, invest in a filter. 
  1. Lead in your bones – Sounds like science fiction, but if you’ve been exposed to lead, your body might be storing it in your bones and it is probably cycling regularly through your blood. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium, as long as that calcium supplement isn’t made from bone.
  1. Renovating your home – Lead paint is common in homes built before 1978, so if you’re doing a renovation, it’s possible to expose yourself to lead dust. If you’re doing major construction, you want to properly protect yourself and maybe even consider sealing off the work area. 
  1. Ceramic dishes – Anything made before 1960 out of ceramic probably has at least a little bit of lead in it. Test your ceramic dishes or switch over to another material to protect yourself.
  1. Community gardens – Because paint chips sometimes make their way into the soil used for community gardens, it’s possible that the soil contains lead. Use topsoil and compost to neutralize it and make sure the pH levels are above 6.5, as that will keep the plants from soaking up too much lead.
  1. Hunting and fishing – If you hunt your own game with lead bullets, you might be eating lead leached from that bullet into the meat. Additionally, fish can sometimes contain high levels of lead, picked up from lures or just from lead-contaminated water. To prevent this, use lead-free bullets when hunting and use sinkers and lures that do not contain lead.
  1. Paint, clay, and chalk – Many art supplies contain lead, which is supposed to improve the brightness of paint, clay, and chalk colors, especially the reds, oranges, greens, and blues. Shiny glazes for pottery are one of the main culprits of lead. To protect yourself, only buy lead-free art supplies and make sure your work space is well ventilated.

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