Lead is toxic via ingestion, inhalation and skin wounds. Prolonged exposure causes lead poisoning with symptoms including headache, tiredness, nausea, stomach pain and anaemia. Lead can accumulate in the body and in the long-term may cause kidney, nerve and brain damage, and infertility. An expectant mother can pass lead exposure to the unborn child. A woman who is breastfeeding a child can pass lead exposure to the child.
People are at risk from lead exposure when dusts, fumes or vapours are present. In museum objects care should be taken where there is loose surface corrosion or flakes of lead paint.