Lead and the Everyday Products That Have It

Updated on October 11, 2019

Man has truly evolved and with the advancement comes the use of items which are no longer 100% organic. Today, more and more products are being developed to bring solutions to everyday problems. However, while some products successfully achieve what they are meant to do, the ingredients that make them up aren’t always completely safe for people. Lead poisoning from items with higher than the safe amount of lead may occur—even those which contain lead and are regularly used over time may result in lead poisoning.

What Makes Lead Poisonous?

Most people know that lead is poisonous. It is also a fact that lead is a very useful kind of metal. A lot of products have lead such as candle wicks, some plastics, batteries, and insulation coatings to name a few. Every day, each person is exposed to trace amounts of lead. In small amounts, lead is not harmful. However, when ingested or consistently exposed to items which have lead, it may accumulate in your body and become toxic—leading to lead poisoning.

Lead becomes toxic when it replaces metals such as calcium, iron, and zinc in certain biochemical reactions. When it does, it may cause your genes to react in the wrong way, displacing the other metals in molecules. Because of this, the protein molecule will change its shape and can no longer perform its usual function. Another effect of lead is how it displaces calcium in the different reactions which transmit electrical impulses in your brain. This effect of lead affects how well you are able to think and recall information.

Because of this reason, products which have lead—especially those which frequently come in contact with people are often recalled especially when they are tested and they show positive for having too much lead.

Lead is poisonous because it accumulates in the body. Unlike other substances which only become poisonous when it reaches a limit or when you are exposed to high dosages, this is not true for lead. Lead is both useful and even necessary in some products, but truthfully, any amount of lead is “too much” since it will accumulate in your body and result in the malfunction of vital biochemical processes and ultimately, lead to hospitalization.

Products Which Contain Lead

Since lead is a useful metal, it is used in some items—in trace amounts. However, it is still so much better if there is no exposure to lead at all since it may result in grave consequences. Here are some products which contain lead:

  • Ceramic tiles – Ceramic tiles, particularly those which are in older bathrooms in ancestral homes may have high amounts of lead. Tiles produced in the 70s, especially the colored tiles, are the dangerous ones. Once the tiles chip, the dust coming from them is hazardous. This is why DIY renovators of older homes must consult professionals to determine whether the tiles are dangerous or still safe to work with. If not, it is a must to let professional builders do the renovations to ensure that there is no unwanted lead exposure or risks of leaving unwanted amounts of lead particles in the home after the renovation project.

  • Lipstick – Recent studies have determined how lead is present in some lipsticks. While it is true that most lipsticks have a very small or trace amount of lead, it is dangerous when lead exceeds one part per million when the lip product is tested. Some products even tested to have 5,000 parts per million—which is especially dangerous when the product is being used frequently. It is best to do research whenever buying beauty products—especially something like lipsticks which are used for extended periods of time and sometimes can be ingested accidentally.

  • Paint – Not all paints are dangerous, but those which have lead are. It was in 1991 when the U.S. declared that lead paint is actually the greatest environmental threat especially to children. It affects adults as well, which is why whenever dealing with paint, one must purchase those which do not have any lead. Also of note, old homes especially those which were built before 1978 have lead paint. Lead paint isn’t dangerous. But when it begins to peel, it releases harmful lead particles which can be inhaled. It is for this reason that when buying old homes, you must consult a professional before proceeding with renovations and DIY paint jobs.

  • Garden hoses – Ever played with garden hoses or took a sip from it on one of those hot summer days while watering the lawn? There are quite a number of garden hoses which have lead in them, especially since some of them are made from recycled materials. Most garden hoses have disclaimers saying something about the lead content which is why you should be careful with the ones you buy. There are, of course, garden hoses which do not have lead but they can be a bit more expensive than the usual ones.

  • Costume jewelry – Old costume and fashion jewelry are at risk of having a lot of lead. Before purchasing any accessories for parties, costume props, or as gifts to children, make sure to buy those which do not have lead in them. Also, check if hand-me-down accessories from friends or relatives are made of safe materials. If you cannot determine the quality, better have it checked or just don’t use it at all if it’s fancy metals.

How to Deal with Products that Have Lead

For paint and tiles which you are not sure about concerning their lead content, contact professional builders to test the materials before proceeding with any home renovation projects. At all costs, avoid contact with abandoned buildings with peeling paint or broken tiles as you may be exposed to lead. Don’t drink from the garden hose either if you aren’t sure about the materials used to avoid unwanted exposure to lead.

Instead of using lipsticks, why not go all natural and let your lips be free from these potentially harmful substances? You also save money and time! Avoid costume jewelry and make sure that children have no access to any of the items which you suspect have lead content since they are more prone to lead poisoning and might accidentally inject small objects which have lead in them.

Reminders When Purchasing Products

Be mindful of the products you buy, and whenever possible, avoid products that have lead especially if you plan on using it frequently or if you will be exposed to it a lot. This way, you avoid the risk of having lead poisoning. Children are more susceptible to products which have lead, and some toys made of plastic also have lead in them—so make sure to purchase high quality toys for your little ones, and always read the packaging whenever you purchase products.

Read the fine print of products and check disclaimers, if any, about the lead content. Inspect imported products for their quality, and listen to the news for any information about items which are recalled for having exceeded the “safe” amount of lead parts for per million. Making informed decisions is the key here, and doing your research before purchasing along with understanding what the product is made up of will help avoid lead poisoning.

It is not 100% possible to have a lead-free home, but being able to do all that you can to avoid lead poisoning is something you can achieve by being aware of it. Lead poisoning may cost you your life and avoiding exposure will surely lessen any negative outcome.

Do you think you might have sources of lead in your home?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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