Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing lead. Children under 6 years old are most at risk. If you are pregnant, lead can harm your baby.


FACT: Lead can cause learning and behavior problems.

Lead poisoning hurts the brain and nervous system.

Some of the effects of lead poisoning may never go away.

Lead in a child’s body can:

  • Slow down growth and development
  • Damage hearing and speech
  • Make it hard to pay attention and learn


FACT: Most children get lead poisoning from paint in homes built before 1978.

When old paint cracks and peels, it makes dangerous dust.

The dust is so small you cannot see it. Most children get lead poisoning when they breathe or swallow the dust on their hands and toys.

FACT: A lead test is the only way to know if your child has lead poisoning.

Most children who have lead poisoning do not look or act sick.
Ask your doctor to test your child for lead.


Protect Your Family

  1. Test your home for lead.
    • If you live in a home built before 1978, have your home inspected by a licensed
      lead inspector.
    • Contact your local health department for more information.

    Sometimes lead comes from things other than paint in your home, such as:

    • Candy, toys, glazed pottery, and folk medicine made in other countries
    • Work like auto refinishing, construction, and plumbing
    • Soil and tap water
  2. Keep children away from lead paint and dust.
    • Use wet paper towels to clean up lead dust. Be sure to clean around windows,
      play areas, and floors.
    • Wash hands and toys often, especially before eating and sleeping. Use soap and water.
    • Use contact paper or duct tape to cover chipping or peeling paint.
  3. Renovate safely.
    Home repairs like sanding or scraping paint can make dangerous dust.

    • Keep children and pregnant women away from the work area.
    • Make sure you and/or any workers are trained in lead-safe work practices.
    • Home repairs like sanding or scraping paint can make dangerous dust.


If you have further questions, please call our Waste Management Division at (513) 946-7800.


Download a printable version of this fact sheet here.

(Click here for a Spanish Version)


250 William Howard Taft Road
2nd Floor, Cincinnati, OH 45219
Phone 513.946.7800 Fax 513.946.7890