Where to Find Lead in Your Home

Lead can be found in many places within your home, and even on the outside of your home. The following resources will help you find where lead may be hiding.

Lead Paint and Dust

Lead in paint dust is a main cause for exposure for children.

Lots of experts think that lead in house dust and dirt around the house is a big reason why kids get exposed to lead. A lot of this lead comes from old gasoline and paint that had lead in them, but we stopped using those a long time ago.

Even so, lead is still in the soil, dust, and old paint in many homes and can be dangerous. It’s a good idea to check the paint, dirt, and dust in and around your house to see if there’s lead in them.

Find lead paint and dust risks in your home.

Homes built before 1978 are more likely to have lead-based paint.

This is because lead was often added to paint used in homes built before 1978. In 1978, the federal government banned the use of lead-based paint in homes. The older the home, the more likely it is to have lead-based paint.

It is important to understand that lead-contaminated dust is created when lead-based paint in older homes chips, flakes, and peels.

This dust can get on hands, toys, clothes, fabric, and more around the house.

The places where you're most likely to find lead paint and lead dust from paint are:
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Exterior paint
  • Interior paint
  • Areas where remodeling or repair is happening.
  • Areas where lead-painted surfaces scrape or rub together.
Old lead pipe to replace by professional plumber due to health hazard
Drinking Water

Old houses might have lead pipes or taps.

When lead pipes near or in your house are disturbed or fixed, lead can get into the water that flows through these pipes.

If your home has lead pipes, think about cleaning the little screen at the end of the faucet (aerator), running the water for a bit to clear the pipes (flushing), or using a special water filter approved by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) to take out lead.

Get a FREE lead-reducing water filter!

Lead can get into drinking water when old water pipes, taps, and parts in the house wear down or corrode.

Experts suggest people living in Kent County should use a water filter that can reduce lead if their house has any of these things, or if they’re not sure:

  • Pipes made of lead or coated with zinc (galvanized) or connections made with lead solder.
  • A lead pipe that brings water from the street to their home.
  • Old taps and parts that were bought before 2014.

Give yourself peace of mind by putting a lead-safe filter on your kitchen tap or using a pitcher with a lead-safe filter.

Families can get a free filter if their home has a lead pipe or lead plumbing and they meet these requirements:

  • There’s a kid under 18 or a pregnant woman living in the house, and
  • Someone in the house gets Medicaid or WIC benefits, and
  • The family can’t afford to buy a filter.

Water Filter Pickup Locations

Fuller Clinic (Main)
700 Fuller Ave. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Cherry Health
Heart of the City Health Center
100 Cherry St SE,
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Do you live in the City of Grand Rapids?

Look at their map to find out if you have lead pipes going to your house.

Outside / Soil

Protect your family from lead in the soil around your home.

The natural lead in soil can be increased by the peeling paint from old buildings, past use of leaded gasoline, and industrial emissions, which pose a health risk. Children are especially vulnerable as they can ingest or inhale lead through play. This toxin can also enter homes on shoes or be absorbed by homegrown produce.

Prolonged exposure to lead, even in small amounts, can cause severe health issues, especially in young children.

Find lead in soil risks around your home.

Some lead naturally occurs in soil, but the soil around your home can become contaminated in other ways, such as:
  • Lead paint chips and dust from deteriorating lead paint on a home’s exterior.
  • Past use of leaded gasoline in cars, or from nearby businesses or factories that use lead.
  • Lead in soil can be breathed in or swallowed by children when playing outside in the dirt and can be tracked into the home.

  • Lead can also be encountered in food grown in contaminated soil. Some fruits or vegetables can even absorb lead from the soil.

To protect your family from lead in soil, you should take the following precautions:
  • Remove shoes before entering the house.
  • Use raised beds when planting fruits and vegetables, filling the bottom with at least 12 inches of clean soil.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables from your garden thoroughly before eating.
  • Wash hands after working or playing outside, especially before eating.
Old vintage toys on shelf. Collection of vintage toys in a shop. Bright colors.
Household Items​

Lead can hide in common household items.

Lead can be found in surprising places around the house, like in some toys, jewelry, or old furniture paint. It’s important to know this because lead is harmful, especially to kids. Checking household items for lead helps keep everyone safe and healthy.

Find lead in common household items.

Lead can hide in unexpected places, like common household items.​ These items include but are not limited to the following:
  • Painted toys, especially older toys.
  • Painted furniture, especially older furniture.
  • Toy jewelry
  • Cosmetics (makeup)
  • Plumbing products like pipes and fixtures.
  • Cookware, like food or liquid containers made of lead crystal, lead-glazed pottery, or porcelain.
  • Dietary supplements
  • Traditional (folk) medicines
  • Herbal remedies
  • Imported spices, such as:
    • Sindoor
    • Tumeric
    • Lozeena
    • Balguti
To protect your family from lead in household items, you should take the following precautions:
  • Throw away lead-recalled toys and jewelry.
  • Avoid cosmetics that may contain lead.
  • Avoid traditional (folk) medicines that may contain lead.
  • Avoid cookware that may contain lead.
  • Avoid imported candies from Mexico.
Jobs and Hobbies

Lead can be found in different kinds of jobs and hobbies.

When you’re doing activities like fixing up homes, painting, mining, recycling batteries, working on cars, or making stained glass or pottery, it’s important to be careful about the risk of coming into contact with lead.

You might breathe in lead dust, swallow it if you don’t wash your hands, or get it on you by touching materials that have lead. It’s really important to know that even a little bit of lead in your body can be bad for you. So, being careful when you’re doing these kinds of work or hobbies is a big deal for keeping healthy.

General Construction Contractor Attaching Drywall Using Cordless Drill Driver. Caucasian Remodeling Worker in His 40s.

Look for lead dangers linked to your work or hobbies.

Common jobs and hobbies that are at risk for lead exposure include, but are not limited to:
  • Renovating and painting
  • Mining
  • Smelting
  • Battery recycling
  • Refinishing old furniture
  • Auto body work
  • Working with stock cars (weights used in stock cars)
  • Hunting (shot and reloading lead ammunition)
  • Fishing (fishing sinkers and jigs)
  • Stained glass (came and solder)
  • Making pottery (dyes and glazes)
To protect your family from lead in jobs and hobbies, you should take the following precautions:
  • Do not put leaded items in your mouth (fishing sinkers, etc.).
  • Wash your hands before eating or drinking.
  • Avoid touching your face while working with lead materials.
  • Change your clothes before going into your home.
  • Take off your shoes before going into your home.
  • Wash work clothes separately from other laundry. After washing lead-contaminated clothing and removing it from the machine, run the rinse cycle once before using the washing machine again.
  • Work with lead in a well-ventilated area outside of the home.
  • Follow lead-safe work practices at your job.
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