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Tribal-FERST Issue Profile: Lead

Lead is a naturally occurring element found in small amounts in the earth’s crust. While it has some beneficial uses, it can be toxic to humans and animals, and cause health effects. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment – air, soil, water, and even inside homes and other buildings.

Lead exposure can come from using fossil fuel, lead-based paint, and other products containing lead, including ceramics, pipes and plumbing materials, batteries, and some cosmetics. Lead may enter the environment from both past and current use of lead-containing products.

Lead can also enter drinking water when service pipes that contain lead corrode, especially in places where water has high acidity, or low mineral content, that corrodes pipes and fixtures. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures with lead solder, from which significant amounts of lead can enter into water, especially hot water. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder.

EPA has determined that lead is a probable human carcinogen. Federal and state regulatory standards have helped reduce the amount of lead in air, drinking water, soil, consumer products, food, and occupational settings.

Learn more about lead by exploring the links below.

General Information


Environmental Concentrations, Human Exposures, and Health Risks

Interested in learning more about a specific location? Type an address, city or ZIP code into the box on the right side of the map below. Click on the map to see a pop-up with information about ambient concentration, exposure concentration and cancer risk for the chosen location(s). Navigate to the next feature by clicking the small arrow(s) on the top right side of the pop-up.

Exposure and Risk Reduction Options

Strategies Implemented By Other Communities

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