Beware of Lead! Do YOU know where it may be hiding?


Photograph of ointment

Lead is a metal that can hurt children and adults. Children may not look or act sick, but a blood test could show that they have lead poisoning. This could harm their growth, behavior, and ability to learn. Lead can also be a problem for adults, especially pregnant women and their babies.

Lead Paint

When lead paint in your house cracks or peels, it can drop chips or make lead dust. Children pick up these chips and dust when they crawl on the floor or put their hands and toys in their mouths. Children can get lead poisoning this way.

Medicines, Spices, Cosmetics, and Food May Contain Lead

Did you know that some medicines, spices, cosmetics, and food from other countries could also contain lead? The lead in these products has caused children to get sick. There may be other products that we do not know about yet. They may be sold in a store in your neighborhood, or friends or family members may bring them back after traveling.

Medicines and other products that may contain lead:

  • Spices

    Spices imported from the Middle East, Latin America, India, and China can contain lead.

  • Cosmetics

    Cosmetics can also contain lead. Kohl (also known as surma or kajal), is one example. It is used to accent the eyes.

  • Candy

    Many types of candy from around the world can contain lead.

  • Medicines, Ointments & Pastes

    Herbal and Aryuvedic medicines from the Middle East, Latin America, India, and China can contain lead.

    Ointments and pastes from outside the United States can contain lead:

    • Yisaoguang Yaogua is an ointment from China used to treat skin rash.
    • Hondan is a powder often used as an ointment for diaper rash and dry skin.
    • Thanaka is a Burmese ointment or paste made from trees used as sunscreen and to protect skin.
  • Incense & Candlesticks

    Incense and some candlesticks can contain lead. Lead can be in charcoal, "unsi", and other incense you burn in your house and in some candle wicks.

  • Metal Jewelry

    Metal jewelry, including gold or silver plated, can contain lead. Children should never put metal jewelry into their mouths.

For More Information

Contact your doctor, your local health department or refugee resettlement case manager if:

  • Your family has used any of these products or products similar to these.
  • You have questions about anything you see in these pictures.
  • Someone gave you a new medicine or you have other questions about whether a medicine or product is safe for your baby or child.
  • Your home has cracked, chipped, or peeling paint.
  • You are concerned your child may have lead poisoning or may have been exposed to products containing lead. Every child should have their blood tested, even if they seem fine.