New York State Department of Health Launches Adult Lead Poisoning Awareness Campaign

'Don't Bring Lead Home' educates New Yorkers about exposure to lead in certain occupations and hobbies

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 12, 2023) - The New York State Department of Health today announced the launching of the "Don't Bring Lead Home" public health awareness campaign to educate the public about the dangers of lead exposure for adults. The Department highlights ways that adults can be exposed to lead from certain jobs and or hobbies, how lead can be transported home, and tips to prevent exposure.

The month-long campaign includes social media content as well as display advertising to target people who work with lead and those who have hobbies that can expose them to lead, such as hunting and target shooting. A separate campaign focused on childhood lead poisoning will also run later this month.

"We often hear about the dangers of childhood lead exposure, but it's important that adults understand that they can experience lead poisoning as well," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "The Department's goal is to educate the public about the harm of lead exposure, especially those who work on job sites where exposure can occur, and to provide simple tips for New Yorkers to help them protect themselves and their families."

Adults can be exposed to lead dust or lead fumes during renovation or remodeling activities in older homes with lead-based paint. They can also be exposed through certain jobs or hobbies. Lead dust can be brought into the home on work clothes, shoes, and equipment. Lead dust can get in cars, and on furniture, floors and carpets. This is called "take-home lead," and is harmful to anyone who comes in contact with it.

Lead can be harmful even if someone does not feel sick. Levels of lead once thought harmless are now shown to be toxic. Studies have shown lead exposure can:

  • Decrease brain function.
  • Decrease kidney function.
  • Raise blood pressure and your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
  • Increase your chances of having a miscarriage and harm your baby's development before birth. Lead can be particularly harmful during pregnancy, affecting fetal development of many systems including the nerves, brain, and kidneys. Those that are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, should consult with their health care provider about receiving a blood lead test.

Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair, and Painting

Homes built before 1978 may contain lead-based paint, often under newer paint. If you disturb the painted surface during a repair project or are planning to renovate or remodel an older home, it's important to conduct the job safely. Lead paint dust or chips can cause serious health problems. The Department reminds the public to "WORK SMART, WORK WET and WORK CLEAN" to keep lead dust and fumes to a minimum.

Lead from work

In addition to taking precautions while working, adults exposed to lead at work can reduce their "take-home lead" by changing out of work clothes and shoes before returning home each day. If possible, wash clothes at work, or seal them in a plastic bag for laundering at home. If clothes must be taken home, they should be washed separately from other household laundry. Workers should also wash their hands and face, and if possible, shower at work before going home. If it's not possible to shower at work, do so immediately upon returning home.

Lead from hobbies

People can be exposed to lead through hobbies like gardening and artwork with lead-glaze, and through target shooting and hunting. The potential for lead exposure at shooting ranges is high because lead can be released into the air when a gun is fired. Most ammunition contains lead -- inside the bullet and in the primer. Lead fumes are also formed as a lead bullet spirals through the barrel. These fumes can get into your body when you breathe or swallow. Simple steps can reduce lead exposure such as using non-leaded copper ammunition and primer, washing hands and face immediately after shooting or handling firearms, and wearing coveralls and shoes designated for the shooting range.

People can also be exposed to lead by eating venison and small game harvested with lead shot and lead bullets. Consider using nonleaded ammunition such as copper when hunting. This is particularly important to protect those that may eat the game including those that could become pregnant and children.

The Department urges the public to learn more about adult lead poisoning and prevention by visiting