Last updated Nov. 3, 2017
Lead is a naturally occurring bluish-gray metal found in the earth's crust. Lead can be found in all parts of our environment and has many different uses. Much of it comes from human activities including burning fossil fuels, mining and manufacturing. It is used in the production of batteries, ammunition, metal products (solder and pipes) and devices to shield X-rays. Lead was used for many years in paints and other products found in and around our homes. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. The use of lead as an additive to gasoline was also banned in 1996 in the United States.
Lead is a highly toxic metal. Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. Children under the age of 6 are especially susceptible to lead poisoning. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1 to 5 with blood lead levels above five micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which health officials recommend public health actions be initiated. Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure for lead in children. Lead poisoning is a both preventable and treatable condition.
For most of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Missouri was the global leader in lead production, and even today some of the largest and most important remaining lead deposits in the world are located in southeast Missouri. Lead production has played an important role in the economic growth and development of Missouri. Estimates of the aggregate lead production in Missouri since mining began in the early 18th Century, top 17 million tons, at a value of nearly $5 billion.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and other state and federal agencies are working to prevent or reduce lead releases to the environment. This website contains information about lead mining in Missouri, state and federal regulation of lead sites, Missouri's strategy for dealing with impacts from lead contamination and links to additional information about lead.
Lead in Missouri
Missouri Resources magazine
Heavy Metal Matters - Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Missouri Resources magazine article
Active Lead Mining, Milling, Smelting and Recycling
Active Smelting Site
Herculaneum Lead Contamination
EaglePicher Technologies LLC
Lead Cleanup and Restoration Settlement Agreements
Additional Missouri Lead Information
Fact Sheets, Publications and PSAs
Asbestos and Lead-Based Paint Abatement Requirements at Brownfields/Voluntary Cleanup Program Sites -- PUB2099
Environmental Regulations for Demolition Project Checklist -- PUB2374
Environmental Regulations for Paint Removal on Outdoor Structures -- PUB118
Complying with Lead Laws and Regulations - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web page
Lead in Drinking Water: Important Information on How to Protect Your Health
Brownfields/Voluntary Cleanup Program
Land Reclamation Program
Abandoned Mine Lands
Industrial and Metallic Mineral Mining Sites
Metallic Minerals Permitting
Lead/Zinc Mine Shaft Closure - An example of a dangerous shaft opening in a residential area is shown in the Webb City Elk’s Lodge Shaft Reclamation Project in Jasper County.
State Parks and Historic Sites
Missouri Mines State Historic Site
Missouri Mines State Historic Site video
St. Joe State Park
St. Joe State Park Lead Information
St. Joe State Park video
Missouri State Parks, Historic Sites and Departmental Offices
Public Drinking Water Branch
Drinking Water Compliance and Monitoring - Lead Information
Consumer Confidence Reports - Systems listed with lead problems
Missouri Waters Initiative
Our Missouri Waters
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for lead
Salem Plateau Groundwater Province - The Salem Plateau groundwater province is also host to many of Missouri’s largest springs. All of the the state's first magnitude springs are in the Salem Plateau groundwater province. Although this region contains abundant groundwater resources, the geology in some areas makes groundwater particularly prone to contamination.