Frequently Asked Questions About Lead Exposure

How does lead exposure happen? 

There are three primary ways people are exposed to lead: water, soil, or paint. 

Soil contamination comes from pollutants from industries – especially automotive, paint, lead procession and gasoline from before 1996. 

Water contamination predominately comes from aging water infrastructure. Lead pipes were fairly common in the United States, and as they corrode, flecks of lead seeps into the water supply. Water contamination can also come from the source with pollutants from previous industries.

Children are especially prone to soil exposure because they tend to stick their hands in their mouths after playing in dirt. They are also prone to exposure from paint because lead-based paint tastes sweet to them. 

Where can I get blood testing? 

In East Chicago, the local health department is working with the State Department of Health to get blood testing done. Call the East Chicago Health Department at 219-391-5323.

What is the treatment for lead exposure?

Once lead enters your system, there is no cure for the exposure. But you can lessen its effects with good nutrition. Foods that are high in iron, vitamin C and calcium can help mitigate symptoms.

How can I find out if there is lead in my soil? 

Contact your county health department with concerns about lead contamination. From there, they can direct you to soil testing companies, or if testing has been done before on your property.

What are the side effects of lead contamination? 

We don't really know for long-term exposure. For children younger than 6, exposure can lead to learning and behavioral problems. Since lead was a huge part of industries until 1996, everyone in the country has been exposed in part to lead.

What do I do if my water has lead in it? 

You need to either purchase bottled water, or, if the contamination is below 150 ppb, you can use a faucet-mounted filter. Any brand will work as long as it has the NSF certification. That's the only certification backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Should I boil my water? 

No. Water experts caution that boiling or running hot water through filters can intensify the effects of lead in water. 

Can I shower or brush my teeth with this water? 

You can shower and bathe, but do not brush your teeth. Swallowing the water is the concern, so children should be watched carefully while bathing them to prevent swallowing water. 

Use bottled or filtered water for brushing your teeth.