Lead is a heavy metal that occurs naturally in rocks and soil. It is soft and blueish grey in color with no distinctive taste or smell. It is currently used in consumer products like batteries, ammunition, pipes, tank linings, solder, casting metals, building materials, electronic equipment, medical devices and products to shield x-rays and radiation. It is also used in ceramic glazes and crystal glassware. Lead and lead compounds were banned from household paint in 1978; solder used on water pipes in 1986; gasoline in 1995; solder used on food cans and from tin-coated foil on wine bottles in 1996; due to various health concerns. The amount of lead used in ceramics is monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Lead affects almost every organ and system in the body. The central nervous system is most susceptible to lead, especially in children, who are more vulnerable to lead poisoning due to their rapidly developing bodies. The primary lead hazard to children in Missouri is deteriorated lead-based paint. The primary lead hazards to adults in Missouri are occupationally related and target shooting.

For additional information on lead, contact the department's Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology, at (573) 751-6102.

Available Data


Data Files

Maps, Charts, Graphs and Tables



Additional Resources