Lead Poisoning Prevention

A significant number of Portland children may be at risk for lead poisoning. In a study of older homes in north, northeast and southeast Portland, 71% had composite lead dust levels that exceed federal standards. Read the Prevalence of Lead Dust Hazards Study┬╗

What is lead poisoning?

Lead poisoning occurs when too much lead builds up in the body. Children and adults can get lead poisoning by breathing or swallowing dust that contains lead. Once absorbed, it affects almost every organ and system in the body. Even a little lead can make children slower learners. Very high levels of lead exposure can cause coma, seizures and death.

Exposure to lead can cause:

  • Brain damage and lower intelligence
  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Impaired speech and language
  • Slowed growth
  • Kidney and liver damage


Signs of lead poisoning are not always easy to see. Children can be poisoned by lead, but not look or act sick. Many children who have lead poisoning look and act healthy. Because of this, lead poisoning may go unrecognized. A blood lead test is the only way to find out if a child has lead poisoning.

About lead

Lead is a naturally occurring metal found in the earth's crust. Lead has been mined, processed, and used in commercial and household products for hundreds of years. In the past, lead was used in paint, gasoline, pottery, water pipes and other products.

Unfortunately, lead is a poison and harms people if it enters the body. Once lead enters the human environment, there is no way to destroy it or make it harmless. Therefore, we must control exposure to lead. Learn more┬╗