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Fact Sheet

August 2009

Lead Soil Contamination Guidelines, Herculaneum, Missouri


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages property owners with lead levels above 400 parts per million (ppm) to take special steps to reduce the risk of exposure. The following guidelines are offered to those who live in areas with elevated soil lead levels.


If soil contains lead, the most likely way people can get lead into their bodies is through eating or swallowing contaminated dirt. Young children (under 6 years of age) are at the highest risk for getting lead into their bodies from soil. Normal activities at this age include playing in dirt and putting their hands, toys and other objects in their mouths. This increases the chance for swallowing small amounts of lead. When a child repeatedly has exposure, the lead can build up in their body and may reach levels that can cause health problems.


Lead is a toxic metal that is harmful if breathed in or swallowed. Children are more sensitive to lead than adults and can develop lifelong disabilities and behavior problems when too much lead builds up in their bodies. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should also avoid exposure to lead because lead can pass from the mother to unborn children, and to nursing children from breast milk.

Lead poisoning can cause these health effects in infants and young children:



If you eat vegetables grown in soil that contains lead, lead can get into your body. To lower the amount of lead that gets into your body from eating vegetables grown in your garden, avoid planting root crops in soil that contains more than 1,000 ppm of lead and do not plant crops in soil that contains more than 1,500 ppm of lead. Always wash and peel all vegetables, fruit and root crops before eating. Consider using raised beds with clean dirt for your garden.


For more information go to:

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Toxicological Profile for Lead:

ToxFAQs for Lead:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil:

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Healthy Homes and Lead-Hazard Control:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program:

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact:

Beckie Himes
Community Involvement Coordinator
Office of Public Affairs
U.S. EPA Region 7
901 North 5th Street
Kansas City, Kansas 66101
Phone: 913-551-7253
Toll Free: 1-800-223-0425

Jim Aycock
RCRA Compliance Officer
Air and Waste Management Division
U.S. EPA Region 7
901 North 5th Street
Kansas City, Kansas 66101
Phone:  913-551-7887
Toll Free:  1-800-223-0425

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