The majority of children poisoned by lead live in homes built and/or painted prior to 1978. These homes contain lead paint, which was outlawed in 1978. As lead paint deteriorates, it creates lead dust. A young child may get lead in their system through inhalation of this dust, or through ingestion of the lead dust that settles on the surfaces in their environment (toys, floor, window sills, clothing, etc.) when they put things in their mouth or fail to wash their hands before eating. Lead paint chips can also taste sweet and some children develop a habit of eating them.
Lead can also be introduced into a child's environment on the clothes of an adult that works in an industry that uses lead like the steel industry, battery factory, etc. Lead can also be found in imported or glazed ceramics, painted antique items, drinking water, and contaminated soil. Lead in soil is usually the result of lead paint from the exterior surfaces of homes painted with lead paint prior to 1978.