Friendly URL:

The main source of lead exposure for children is lead paint, but lead can be found in other items like water and soil. Less common sources of lead exposure include ceramic dishes, brass containers, foreign/antique tea kettles (like samovars), stained glass, large batteries, bullets, fishing sinkers, and folk medicines/cosmetics (like kohl) from other countries.

Lead gets into water from lead pipes, lead solder, and some brass faucets. You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in the water. Boiling will not reduce the amount of lead in your water. You can have your water tested to find out if it has lead in it.

Take these steps to reduce the lead exposure from water:

  • Run Your Water - Let your water run until it is cold if it has been unused for more than six hours. Run each faucet before using it. Fill a bottle for drinking water after running the tap and put it in the refrigerator.
  • Use Cold Water for Cooking and Drinking - Hot water may have more lead in it. If you need hot water, heat up cold water in a pan. Never use hot water or foreign/antique tea kettles for making infant formula.

Lead in Drinking Water at Home

Lead in Drinking Water at School

Copper in Water

Water samples are often tested for both copper and lead. For answers to frequently asked questions about copper and health, see our copper fact sheet.

Lead in Soil

Lead in soil is often found near old painted buildings. It is also found near roads and in vacant lots where a building once stood. You can have your soil tested to find out if it has lead in it.

Take these steps to reduce the lead exposure from soil:

  • Plant Grass or Bushes - Plant them around your house, where children play, and over bare soli (use tough grass like fescue). Cover dirt under swings and slides with mats, bark mulch, or other ground covers.
  • Change Play Area Locations - Move play areas away from old buildings and roads. Build a new sandbox and fill it with clean sand.
  • Use a Door Mat - This helps prevent dirt from getting into your home.
  • Plant Gardens Away From Roads and Old Buildings - Before eating vegetables, wash or peel them. Or, grow vegetables in pots using new soil.

If your soil has a high lead level, you can also take these steps:

  • Keep Children Away - Build a fence or barrier around that area.
  • Cover or Replace the Soil - Cover with clean topsoil, or remove and replace top 3 to 6 inches of soil with clean topsoil or other covering.

To have your soil tested, call the University of Massachusetts at Amherst at 413-545-2311.

For more information, contact:
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 1-800-532-9571or your local Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

This information is provided by the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program within the Department of Public Health.