Lead at Superfund Sites: Frequent Questions from the General Public
- How do I learn about lead hazards in consumer products?
- Where can I get more information about lead-based paint?
- What is the IEUBK model?
- What is the ALM?
- Why is EPA using these models and what do the results tell us?
- How might I be exposed to lead?
- What are symptoms of lead exposure?
- Where can I find information about lead in drinking water?
The Superfund hotline (800-424-9346) can assist you. You can also contact your EPA Region and access other EPA information sources through EPA’s Where You Live page.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) posts this information on its website.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s website provides information on lead hazard control in homes as well as a list of state-licensed contractors for lead-based paint removal. To learn more about the effects of lead poisoning and EPA's role in reducing the presence of lead in the environment, visit EPA’s Lead Web page.
The Integrated Exposure Uptake and Biokinetic (IEUBK) model is a computer program used by EPA to predict lead concentrations in water, soil and air that are acceptable for areas where children live and play. For more detailed technical information about the IEUBK model, please visit the Software and Users' Manuals page.
The Adult Lead Methodology (ALM) is a mathematical equation used by EPA to predict the lead concentration in soil that would be appropriate for non-residential areas (for example, industrial or commercial areas) where children are not likely to live or play. For more detailed technical information about the ALM, please visit the Software and Users' Manuals page.
The models allow EPA to predict blood lead levels (and risks) for areas where no population may be present (future uses) or for cases where a community is currently taking preventive measures to reduce exposure. The results of the IEUBK model and the ALM provide EPA with information that aids in cleaning up contaminated site to levels that are protective for the most sensitive population exposures.
Lead is naturally occurring, so it can be found in high concentrations in some areas. In addition, lead can contaminate soil, air and water due to human activities (including mining and smelting, as well as dumping of certain paints, pipes or ceramics). Because lead is widely distributed, there are many possible ways to be exposed to lead, including drinking contaminated water, intentionally or unintentionally eating soil, paint chips and dust, inhaling lead-containing particles of soil or dust in air, and ingesting foods that contain lead from soil or water.
Early symptoms of lead exposure may include persistent fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, reduced attention span, insomnia and constipation. Lead poisoning may also cause increased blood pressure, hearing and vision impairment, and reproductive problems (e.g., decreased sperm count). It also can retard fetal development even at relatively low levels.
In children, lead poisoning can cause learning and behavioral problems, brain damage, mental retardation, anemia, liver and kidney damage, hearing loss, hyperactivity, developmental delays, other physical and mental problems, and in extreme cases, death. Although the effects of lead exposure are a potential concern for all humans, young children (0 to 7 years old) are the most at risk.
For more information on the health effects of lead, including health effects associated with specific blood lead concentrations, please see:
- Centers for Disease Control Led Basics website
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry FAQ for lead
EPA’s Office of Water webpage provides information on lead contamination of drinking water.