In light of the recent firestorm surrounding the lead-tainted drinking water in Flint, Michigan, many parents are wondering about how to keep their children – and themselves – safe from lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can affect anyone, in any location, and its impact is dire. Lead poisoning can impact IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic performance, among a number of other complications. What’s more, the effects of lead exposure cannot be reversed. Accordingly, it is important to prevent lead exposure in the first place. Children under the age of 6 years old are most at risk of lead poisoning because they are growing rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects into their mouths. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the most hazardous sources of lead for U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978, but all houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint and the deterioration of lead-based paint can result in exposure. According to the CDC, approximately 24 million homes have deteriorated lead paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust, and more than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children. If you currently live, or have lived, in a house or apartment built before 1978, your children should be tested for lead exposure. A reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter is used to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) offers the following safety information to parents:
- Urge your state or local health department to test your home for lead.
- Make sure your child is tested for lead exposure by his or her doctor on a regular basis.
- Ensure that your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
- Children and pregnant women should not be present during renovations of housing built before 1978.
- Regularly wash children’s hands and toys.
- Regularly clean window components every 2-3 weeks.
- Remove shoes when entering the house to prevent bringing lead-contaminated soil in from outside.
- Prevent children from playing in bare soil. Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips, if possible. Until the bare soil is covered, move play areas away from bare soil and away from the sides of the house. Alternatively, provide children with a sandbox, and cover the box when not in use to prevent cats from using it as a litter box.
- Have water tested for lead exposure.
Liability for Lead Exposure If your child has been exposed to lead, you may have a cause of action against your landlord or property owner. Additionally, if a doctor failed to test for lead exposure as necessary, you may also have a cause of action for medical malpractice. The Chicago injury lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish can help you understand your legal rights and options. Contact Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish at (312) 445-9084 to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible legal claim. Steinberg Goodman & Kalish (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families. We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (888) 325-7299 or (312) 445-9084.