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Lead Poisoning

Blood Lead Reference Value Now Lowered to 3.5 mcg/dL

Lead is a heavy gray metal that has many uses and can be harmful if it gets into the body. Before 1978, lead was used to make paint. Many old houses are painted with lead-based paint.

You can get lead into your body in various ways, including by ingesting or breathing dust from lead paint, ingesting lead chips, drinking tap water that has lead in it, eating fruits or vegetables that have lead on them from the soil, and eating food that has been prepared or stored in dishes made with lead.

Lead poisoning is completely preventable. The Center for Healthy Homes and Environment coordinates statewide efforts to eliminate lead poisoning and reduce lead exposure.

Sources of exposure

Lead can be found in many places around a home, such as in peeling and chipping lead paint, dust from lead paint, soil and dirt in the yard, tap water from lead pipes, and pottery, crystal, or ceramic dishes. more The most prevalent exposure in Rhode Island comes from lead-based paint and paint dust found in residences built before 1978.

Populations at risk

Anyone can get lead poisoned. However, lead is most dangerous to children younger than six years old. Young children put their hands, toys and other things in their mouths. Any of these objects could have lead dust on them.

Lead poisoned children are likely to suffer life-long consequences. Even a small amount of lead can have a negative effect on a child's development and can cause serious health problems, including learning disabilities, loss of IQ, and reduced attention span. Fortunately, parents can take actions to protect children from lead poisoning.

Most adult lead poisoning comes from lead exposure in the workplace. Occupations with common lead exposure include renovation and repair, marine craft building and restoration, and manufacturing. The Department offers free and confidential assistance to help employers follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations and minimize employee exposure to lead.


Rental Registry Information

The Rhode Island Department of Health is establishing a statewide Rental Registry for all landlords in Rhode Island as defined in RIGL 34-18-58. This registry will serve as a vital source of information about rental properties’ adherence to housing standards and health laws. Property owners, renters, and public health officials will be able to use the registry to find housing information, like lead certificates. RIDOH’s focus will be to ensure that all pre-1978 rental units have a valid lead certificate. More information will be provided in the coming weeks as it becomes available. Learn more about the rental registry in the FAQ.