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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Housing Bureau

Solving the unmet housing needs of the people of Portland.

Phone: 503-823-2375

fax: 503-823-2387

421 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Health Effects & Main Sources

Health Effects

Lead is a poison that can cause serious health problems, and the effects of lead poisoning can last a lifetime. Children ages 0-6 and pregnant women are most at risk. Lead can cause permanent learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and, at very high levels, seizures, coma and even death. Because lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. All children should be have their blood tested at ages 1 and 2. Exposure to lead can result in:

  • Lowered intelligence
  • Behavior problems
  • Reading and learning difficulties
  • Kidney and liver damage

Main Sources

Lead-based paint was used in many homes built prior to 1978. When lead-based paint is disturbed through remodeling; daily wear and tear on doors, windows and other painted surfaces; or deteriorated by age, it creates dust. This dust can poison children--even a small amount of dust can be enough to harm a child. Homes built before 1978 contain the three main sources of lead hazards for children:

  • Lead-contaminated dust
  • Paint in poor condition
  • Lead-contaminated soil

For more information about lead poisoning prevention, view our resource links or call Multnomah County's LeadLine at 503-988-4000.