What is Lead?

Lead is a naturally occurring mineral found deep in the earth in abundant supply. Even small amounts of lead are dangerous to humans and animals.

Where can I find lead in the Greenville area?

Lead can be found every where in our environment. It can be found in our air, water, soil and in our homes. Everyday items that we come in contact with may contain lead. Paints, batteries, plumbing and even cosmetics might expose us to lead.

Lead may be released into the air through industrial sources such as mining, smelting, or refining activities. When released into the air the lead particles can travel a considerable distance before settling to the ground. Once the particles reach the ground they may work their way down into the ground water.

Federal and state regulations have been set and have helped reduce the lead content found in our environment.

Most exposure to lead occurs through contact in older buildings that have not been maintained properly or during renovations. Peeling paint and dust containing paint particles that contain lead can be ingested or inhaled. This is expecially true for children. Using plates or glassware which contain lead is another way that people can be exposed.

When lead is released to the air from industrial sources or vehicles, it may travel long distances before settling to the ground, where it usually sticks to soil particles. Lead may move from soil into ground water depending on the type of lead compound and the characteristics of the soil.

Once the dangers of lead were understood, regulations at the Federal and State level have reduced or eliminated the amount of lead in water, soil, consumer products, food, and occupational settings.


Young children are more likely to put their hands or other items that may contain lead into their mouths. Even small amounts of lead can cause neurological problems in children. Their growing bodies absorb lead quickly. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Lead poisoning can severely affect mental and physical development. At very high levels, lead poisoning can cause seizures, coma or death. Babies and young children can also be more highly exposed to lead because they often put their hands and other objects that can have lead from dust or soil on them into their mouths. Some health effects caused by lead exposure, even small amounts, in children are:

  • Permanent damage to the brain and nervous system, leading to behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, and hearing problems
  • Slowed growth
  • Anemia

Adults can be exposed to lead through dust released during demolition or remodeling of older buildings or homes. They could also be exposed to lead through food or water contaminated by glasses or dishes containing lead. Get your building tested for lead before performing any demolition or renovations.


Over time lead can accumulate in our bodies, where it is stored in our bones along with calcium. Lead is released from maternal bones along with calcium during pregnancy and crosses the placenta to help form the bones of the fetus. This can result in serious effects on her developing fetus and pregnancy, including:

  • Miscarriage
  • Reduced growth of the fetus and premature birth