Factors that may increase your risk of lead poisoning include:

  • Age. Infants and young children are more likely to be exposed to lead than are older children. They may chew paint chips, and their hands may be contaminated with lead dust. Young children also absorb lead more easily and sustain more harm from it than do adults and older children.
  • Living in an older home. Although the use of lead-based paints has been banned since the 1970s, older homes and buildings often retain remnants of this paint. People renovating an older home are at even higher risk.
  • Certain hobbies. Making stained glass requires the use of lead solder. Refinishing old furniture may put you in contact with layers of lead paint.
  • Country of origin. People who live in developing countries are at higher risk of lead poisoning because those countries usually have less strict rules regarding exposure to lead. American families who adopt a child from another country may want to have the child's blood tested for lead poisoning.

Because lead can harm an unborn child, pregnant women or women likely to become pregnant should be especially careful to avoid exposure to lead.

Mar. 12, 2011