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Health Department
Health and Community Services
43525 Elizabeth Road, Mount Clemens, MI 48043
(586) 469-5235

Sources of Lead

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Lead enters the body through inhalation (breathing in) or ingestion (eating or drinking) of lead or lead dust. An individual can be exposed through a number of sources, including:

  • Lead-based paint, paint chips or dust
  • Painted toys and furniture
  • Toy jewelry
  • Cosmetics (makeup)
  • Food or liquid containers made of lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain

Lead can also enter drinking water when it comes in contact with lead service lines (the pipes that bring water from the water main into your home) or with lead plumbing inside your home. Drinking water faucets made before 2014 were allowed to contain up to 8 percent lead.

Lead found in drinking water is soluble or particulate. Soluble lead is lead that is dissolved in water. Particulate lead is small pieces of lead from lead-containing material. Either type of lead can get into your drinking water when pipes or faucets containing lead begin to break down or dissolve. The amount of lead that can end up in drinking water depends on:

  • Water chemistry (what is in the water)
  • Contact with lead-containing items (if it passes through lead plumbing or fixtures)
  • Water use (how often and in what amount water runs through plumbing and fixtures)
  • Construction or plumbing repairs in the street or home (particulate lead can be released

How can an adult be exposed to lead?

More than 80 percent of exposure to lead in Michigan adults comes from the workplace. The most common work exposures in Michigan are:

  • Removal of lead paint used in homes built before 1978
  • Brass and bronze manufacturing
  • Recycling of lead batteries
  • Working at a gun range (instructor or maintenance)

Adults can also be exposed through tap water from pipes and faucets that contain lead.