Our understanding of lead poisoning has changed dramatically in the last several years as the scientific evidence of its causes and effects has accumulated. However, the misconceptions listed below still interfere with efforts to prevent exposure.


Myth- Children have to eat paint chips or chew on painted surfaces in order to get lead poisoning.
Fact - Children are poisoned more often by ingesting dust from lead paint than by eating chips or chewing on painted surfaces. Lead dust covers surfaces and objects that children touch and clings to their hands and toys. Children ingest lead dust when they put their hands or toys in their mouths, which is normal behavior for all young children.
Myth - Only children with very high levels of lead in their blood are permanently impaired.
Fact - Even low levels of lead in a child's blood may have long-term effects on learning and behavior.
Myth - Only children in the inner city are in danger of getting lead poisoning.
Fact - Lead poisoning crosses all racial, geographic, and economic lines. Lead paint can be in any home built before 1978.
Myth - Only children living in poorly maintained or poorly cleaned homes are lead poisoned.
Fact - Poor maintenance and cleaning habits do increase the risk of childhood lead poisoning. However, good maintenance and cleaning habits alone will not fully protect a child. Children are most often poisoned by lead dust created over time through normal wear and tear and repairs or renovations. Lead dust cannot be fully removed by normal household cleaning. Even if cleaned, lead dust continues to be generated by activities such as opening and closing windows.
Myth - Poor parental supervision is to blame for lead poisoning.
Fact - Even well supervised children can become lead poisoned. Lead poisoning frequently occurs when children engage in the perfectly normal behavior of putting their hands, toys and other objects into their mouths.
Myth - It is more hazardous to delead than to leave lead in place. Disturbing lead paint creates dust and makes the problem worse.
Fact - Lead hazards during deleading can be controlled by a Licensed Deleader trained to use safe techniques and proper clean-up methods.
Myth - A child who appears healthy, active, and lacks symptoms is not lead poisoned.
Fact - Children who seem perfectly normal and healthy may still be lead poisoned. Damage to the brain and nervous system can be subtle and very difficult to detect without a medical exam.
Myth - Lead poisoning is not a real problem. Many people grew up in homes with lead paint and are perfectly healthy.
Fact - Since Massachusetts children were not routinely tested for lead poisoning until 1990, and since there are usually no symptoms with moderate lead poisoning, many people may have been affected without knowing it. Many people who have grown up in homes with lead paint may have experienced subtle damage to the brain and nervous system. Although these people have lived normal lives, they have been denied their full potential. A significant number of people who experienced learning, behavior, and attention problems may have been affected by undiagnosed lead poisoning.

As lead paint gets older it poses more of a health hazard because it is more likely to chip, peel, chalk and create lead dust and debris. As a result, the lead paint, which existed in homes when today's adults were young children, poses a greater threat now.