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Lead has long been recognized as a harmful environmental pollutant. In fact, it may be the biggest environmental threat to children’s health in the United States. 

Usually, humans are affected by lead in soil from direct ingestion. Lead, in general, is taken into the body by either ingestion (eating) or inhalation (breathing). Children (ages 2-3) are by far at the highest risk of exposure due to their increased sensitivity and higher likelihood of ingestion.  The level of lead considered safe for plants is significantly higher than soil that may be directly ingested because plants and vegetables do not easily absorb lead. Besides, some children are at much greater risk from eating contaminated soil than from eating vegetables anyway.

Unfortunately, lead in the soil can also cause elevated levels of lead within the home as well. This happens when children or pets play in the soil and track those fine soil particles into houses as airborne dust, on shoes, clothing, etc. A swipe test (as described above) near the entry points can be helpful identifying if this is an issue in your home.


Lead-based paint is the most significant source of lead exposure in the United States, and it’s a job that’s best done by professionals who are trained to do it right. When lead-based paint is improperly removed from surfaces by dry scraping, sanding, or open flame burning, the lead particles become airborne and spread throughout the entire area. This increases the risk of exposure through the lungs.

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