Adults and Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning in adults can cause serious health effects, such as high blood pressure, nerve disorders, brain damage, kidney damage and reproductive damage. Symptoms of lead poisoning include headaches, stomach cramps, constipation, muscle/joint pain, trouble sleeping, fatigue, irritability, and loss of sex drive. Most adults with lead poisoning don't look or feel sick.

The most common cause of lead poisoning in non-pregnant adults is occupational exposure to lead in the construction industry. Workers in other industries, as well as hobbyists, may be at risk if they work with metal, paint, pigments, or glazes that contain lead. Hobbies with lead poisoning risks include jewelry making, working with stained glass, antique restoration, and furniture refinishing. Adults can also be exposed to lead through the use of lead-contaminated products, such as certain imported health remedies, spices, foods, pottery and cosmetics.

If you think you may have been exposed to lead, answer the questions in the self-assessment guide below. See your doctor for a venous blood lead test if you answer yes to any of the questions in the self-assessment guide.

If you have questions about your exposure to lead, or to find out where to get a blood lead test, call 311 and ask for the Healthy Homes Program.

Steps you can take to protect yourself and your family

Keep away from lead and always wash your hands and face before eating or drinking. To learn more about steps you can take to protect yourself and your family, review the Adult Lead Fact Sheet (PDF)
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Prevent Lead Poisoning in the Workplace

Workers are exposed by breathing lead dust or lead fumes during construction activities that disturb old lead-based paint, such as renovations, repairs, demolition, and clean-up. Federal and state laws require employers to protect workers from exposure to lead. If you work in a job that exposes you to lead, see below:

Prevent Lead Poisoning in the Shooting Range

Indoor shooting ranges are a known source of lead exposure. Lead gets into the air and settles on surfaces when guns with leaded primer or leaded bullets are fired. If you work in a shooting range or practice target shooting:

Avoid Hazardous Consumer Products

Some supplements or remedies, imported spices and cosmetics may contain high levels of lead, which can be dangerous to your health. For information about some of these and other hazardous products, visit Hazardous Consumer Products .

Protect Yourself from Lead Poisoning During Pregnancy

Pregnant women and their fetuses may also be at risk for lead poisoning. For more information about how to prevent lead poisoning during pregnancy, visit Lead Poisoning in Children and Pregnant Women

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