Lead from Work and Hobbies

Lead from Work

You can be exposed to lead by creating dust or fumes while performing work activities. Lead dust can be brought into your home on work clothes and equipment and get in your car, on furniture, floors and carpets. This is called take home lead and it can harm anyone who comes in contact with it.

You could be exposed to lead if you:

  • Grind, cut, drill, sand, scrape or blast surfaces that are coated with lead paints
  • Tear down structures that have been painted with lead based paints
  • Work on leaded cables or wires
  • Pour powders that contain lead pigments
  • Do remodeling and renovation work
  • Handle scrap metal
  • Shoot in and/or clean indoor firing ranges
  • Handle artist pigments
  • Break up old lead batteries
  • Use heat guns to remove paint from doors, windows, and other painted surfaces
  • Weld or solder lead containing materials such as electronics, stained glass or radiator
  • Torch cut coated and uncoated metal
  • Work in smelting operations such as bronze, brass, copper or iron foundries

You can reduce your exposure to lead if you:

  • Change into work clothes and shoes before beginning work each day. Consider at minimum changing your shoes.
  • Wear a clean, properly fitted air purifying respirator equipped with P100 filters (purple) as a minimum level of protection, in all work areas that have lead dust or fumes. Shave to get the required fit.
  • Wash your hands and face before you eat, drink or smoke.
  • Eat, drink or smoke and store food, drink, cigarettes or cosmetics in areas away from lead dust and fumes.
  • Shower at the end of the day, before you go home.
  • Launder your clothes at work if possible. If you must take clothes home, wash and dry them separately from other family members' clothes.

Occupational Health Clinic Network

The New York State Network of Occupational Health Clinics provides medical and educational services for workers exposed to workplace hazards. If you want to talk to a physician about lead exposure at work, contact a health clinic in your area.

Lead from Hobbies

Target Shooting and Hunting

People can be exposed to lead when it is released into the air when a gun is fired, particularly in a shooting range. Most ammunition contains lead within the bullet and the primer. Lead fumes are also formed as the lead bullet spirals through the barrel. These fumes can get into your body when you breathe or swallow, and lead dust can get on your food, cigarettes, or other items that you eat, drink, or put in your mouth. People can be exposed to lead by eating venison and small game harvested with lead shot and lead bullets. If you have any questions regarding how to reduce the amount of lead in venison, please contact your Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Wildlife Office.


Soil in certain areas may contain lead and other chemicals. Learn tips for healthy gardening.

Lead-Glazed Art

Lead may get into foods or liquids that have been stored in ceramics, pottery, china, or crystal glazed with lead. Learn more about glazed pottery.

Imported Products

Some medicines, spices, cosmetics, and food from other countries could contain lead. Learn more about imported products.