What are the Health Effects of Lead?

Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead.


Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:

  1. Behavior and learning problems
  2. Lower IQ and Hyperactivity
  3. Slowed growth
  4. Hearing Problems
  5. Anemia

In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma, and even death.

Pregnant Women

Lead can accumulate in our bodies over time, where it is stored in bones and calcium. During pregnancy, lead is released from the mother's bones and calcium and can pass from the mother exposing the fetus or the breastfeeding infant to lead. This can result in severe effects to the developing fetus and infant, including:

  1. Cause the baby to be born too early or too small;
  2. Hurt the baby's brain, kidney's, and nervous system;
  3. Increase the likelihood of learning or behavioral problems; and
  4. Put the mother at risk for miscarriage.

Check out the websites below for more about lead's effects on pregnancy and lactating women:

Effects of Workplace Hazards on Female Reproductive Health, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. 

Guidelines for the Identification and Management of Lead Exposure in Pregnant and lactating Women, National Center for Environmental Health. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/publications/leadandpregnancy2010.pdf 

Other Adults

Lead is also harmful to other adults. Adults exposed to lead can suffer from:

  1. Cardiovascular effects increased blood pressure and incidence of hypertension;
  2. Decreased kidney function; and
  3. Reproductive problems (in both men and women). 

Show All Answers

1. What is Lead?
2. What is Lead Poisoning?
3. What are Sources of Lead Poisoning?
4. What are the Signs and Symptoms of Lead Poisoning?
5. Who is at Risk?
6. What are the Health Effects of Lead?
7. How Do I Get my Child Tested for Lead Poisoning?
8. How Much Does It Cost to Get my Child Tested for Lead Poisoning?
9. How Do I Get my Home or Building Tested?
10. What are Some Tips for Lead Poisoning Prevention?