Lead poisoning occurs when the body is exposed to lead which leads to neurological damage and kidney failure. In children especially, amounts of lead exceeding 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood can lead to permanent developmental disabilities inclusion learning disorders, behavioral problems and long term illness. There is no safe threshold for lead and prolonged and chronic exposure may lead to serious illness or death.
How does one usually get exposed to lead?
Household paints have historically contained lead so children living in older residences may be exposed to lead through paint chips or dust that they unknowingly consume. Lead may also get into soil and water through exposure to pesticides and gasoline where is passes the lead content to the food. Lead in paint and gasoline was banned in the 1970s as there was a growing realization of the dangers it posed. Water can be contaminated through lead content in older pipes that are made of or soldered with lead. Lead was also found in some South Asian cosmetics, toys imported from China and some traditional medicine. Individuals that eat game shot with lead bullets also show elevated levels of lead in their bodies.
The body can be exposed to lead through the mouth, nose and eyes. Additionally, lead can enter the body through breaks in the skin. Most lead exposure is through the respiratory system where it eventually enters the bloodstream. Absorption rates may be as high as 15%. For adults, lead is usually deposited in the bones or teeth which are less dangerous than the risk for children where the lead is constantly reentering the bloodstream, causing havoc on the cell structure and immune system. Lead exposure deteriorates the hippocampus of the brain leading to memory loss. Lead exposure affects virtually every part of the body which is why it is especially dangerous to growing children.
Individuals that may have been exposed to lead should consult a doctor for testing immediately.
What steps have been taken to protect children from further lead exposure?
Since the regulation of lead in household products and fuel in the 1970s, municipalities through their own accord and as the targets of lawsuits have enforced stringent standards for the removal of lead. Individuals that fail to comply with these standards for their properties and in the process endanger tenants or other individuals that come into contact with the property will face criminal and civil penalties. Most municipalities have aimed to eliminate lead poisoning altogether in the near future. Government agencies, such as the CDC have released guidelines and suggestions for limiting lead exposure and removing its danger to children.
Am I eligible for damages in lead exposure cases?
Some personal injury lawyers specialize in lead-related exposure cases, generally against landlords and property owners, but also against municipalities and lead removal contractors. Improper lead removal can exacerbate a condition by releasing lead dust into the air. The attorney will be able to help you determine liability for the case.