Where does lead come from?

There are four main sources of lead in Cleveland.

  1. Until 1978, lead was used in paint to make it more durable. As lead paint deteriorates, particles of lead are released as dust into homes. Babies can inhale or ingest lead dust inside a poorly maintained home. Lead dust can be tracked in from outdoors.

  2. Lead was used in gasoline sold in the US from the 1950's to the 1980's. Since lead does not burn, particles of lead were released in car exhausts and landed on soil adjacent to roads and highways.

  3. For hundreds of years lead was used in the pipes that carry water to your home and in plumbing fixtures. Even if your home has copper plumbing, the solder use to join copper pipes contains lead. Lead molecules can dissolve in the water running through lead plumbing and fixtures. Many water companies treat household water with orthophosphate to reduce the likelihood of lead getting into drinking water. Home water filters can help.

  4. Commercial wastes are sometimes full of lead. Lead acid batteries used in automobiles. Bullets and other munitions use lead. Smokestack lead emissions can affect whole communities.

AC asks: Who is responsible for testing lead in based on income apartments? How often is lead test for?

All tenants living in homes built before 1978 should receive a notice from the landlord of known lead hazards. If landlord does not have knowledge of lead hazards, they still must give a written notice at the beginning of the tenancy. Federal Lead Disclosure law. Disclosure should be updates any time an owner gets new information about lead hazards in the property.


When a medical provider has evidence that a child an Elevated Blood Lead Level (EBLL), the medical provider notifies the Ohio Department of Health. ODH then contacts the local health department to contact the parents and the property owner about the lead hazards. If a child's EBLL is greater than 10 micrograms/deciliter of blood, the local health department must conduct a lead risk assessment and issue a lead hazard control order to the property owner. Tenants should receive a copy of the LHCO.


In the city of cleveland, owners of properties built before 1978 are required to certify that their properties are "lead safe." The city is phasing in compliance with this requirement based on zip code. Lead Safe Certificates must be renewed every two years.


Tenants who live in HUD subsidized properties in Cleveland are covered by the new city ordinance EXCEPT FOR TENANTS LIVING IN CONVENTIONAL PUBLIC HOUSING. HUD regulations in public housing require public housing authorties to make annual visual inspections of paint surfaces. Federal Lead Safe Housing Rule. Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH) is advocating enactment of the Lead Safe Housing for Kids Act 2021. This law would require owners of Federally assisted housing to certify Federally assisted units as "lead safe" when they are occupied by persons under age 6.

CLASH suggests that tenants in rental housing built before 1978 should report chipping, peeling or deteriorating paint or bare soil to the Cleveland Department of Building and Housing. You can request a copy of CLASH's Brochure "Take Action" by sending an email to clevelandleadsafe@gmail.com or leave a voice or text message at 216-359-1060.

What are the effects of childhood exposure to lead on adults?

Kidney disease: July 16, 2021. U.S. News & World Report. Even a Little Lead in Drinking Water Can Harm People With Kidney Disease. "Low levels of lead in drinking water are widespread in the United States. These findings suggest that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules on allowable lead levels in drinking water pose a risk to the 30 million to 40 million Americans with kidney disease. 'While drinking water may seem uniformly healthy, low levels of lead contamination found in the majority of drinking water systems in the United States may have toxic effects for those with chronic kidney disease,' said lead author Dr. John Danziger, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston."

Personality: Jul 12, 2021. UT News. Childhood Lead Exposure May Adversely Affect Adult Personalities, "AUSTIN, Texas — Lead exposure in childhood may lead to less mature and less healthy personalities in adulthood, according to a new study led by psychology researchers at The University of Texas at Austin. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sampled more than 1.5 million people in 269 U.S. counties and 37 European nations. Researchers found that those who grew up in areas with higher levels of atmospheric lead had less adaptive personalities in adulthood — lower levels of conscientiousness and agreeableness and higher levels of neuroticism."

Heart disease: Historical lead exposure may be linked to 256,000 premature deaths from cardiovascular disease in adults in United States each year.

What about lead in glazed pottery?

15 Cases of Lead Poisoning Linked to Use of Ceramic Ware, NYC Health Department Warns. What to Know:

Health officials warned New Yorkers on Tuesday to stop using ceramic dishes and cups that aren’t food-safe after several cases of lead poisoning were recently reported

Ceramics that aren’t food-safe have been found to have lead levels that are thousands of times greater than the allowable limit, according to the health department

Lead exposure can cause learning and behavior problems in children, DOH officials said. In adults, it can increase blood pressure and affect the brain, kidneys and reproductive organs