Lead is a metal found in many places in nature. Lead was most commonly and controversially used as an additive to paint. Historically, paint manufacturers infused pigments with lead for multiple reasons. It helped paint resist mildew, strengthened its durability and made paint anti-corrosive. This made it a favorite for house painting, furniture painting and more. Use of lead paint is unrestricted in many developing countries and is currently in use for some domestic construction of bridges, parking lots, road signs, and other large-scale projects. In the late 1970s, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a “final ban on lead-containing paint andtoys and furniture coated with such paint. This action was taken to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in children who may ingest paint chips or peelings.” The amount of lead in paint and the use of such paint have been regulated closely ever since 1978.
If you live in a house or building constructed before 1978, you likely have lead paint somewhere. Landlords, sellers and contractors are required by federal law to give certain notices and disclosures to buyers about the possibility of lead. Alabama law regulates contractors and business that engage in “lead activities” including inspection and remediation. If lead exposure or poisoning harms your child, contact our experienced attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt. Our attorneys understand Alabama lead poisoning injury laws and can help you get damages to help pay for your child’s medical needs.
Lead Poisoning in Montgomery & Mobile Alabama
Dangers of lead paint poisoning still exist for some homeowners, renters and consumers, especially those who are in homes and apartments built before 1978. Old buildings with peeling paint are the main source of lead poisoning because lead-based paint is still on walls and woodwork. Most lead poisoning cases in children results from eating lead-based paint chips and inhaling or ingesting lead-based dust.
Approximately 24 million housing units in the United States have deteriorated leaded paint and show elevated levels of lead in house dust. One or more young children live in 4 million of these homes. Children under 6 are at greatest risk for lead poisoning because of their rapid growth during these years. Young children also tend to put more things in their mouths, such as hands or objects, which may be contaminated with lead infused dust.
Children that ingest peeling lead paint or inhale fumes from dust associated with lead paint can suffer severe health consequences, including death. For a child, the ingestion of a tiny amount of lead-based paint is potentially hazardous if it begins to peel, chip, or generate dust. There is no “safe” level of lead in the body of a child so even brief exposure can lead to significant injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed the reference level of micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood from 10 to 5. “The new lower value means that more children will likely be identified as having lead exposure allowing parents, doctors, public health officials, and communities to take action earlier to reduce the child’s future exposure to lead”. As of June 2014, this reference level remains at 5.
Symptoms of Child Lead Poisoning
The greatest risk facing children from lead exposure is to brain development. Children change so rapidly during their early years, and ingestion or inhalation of lead can cause permanent brain damage. Children with weakened immune systems face even greater risk. High levels of lead can damage the kidneys, nervous system and more. Very high amounts of lead in a child’s blood may cause headaches, weakness, loss of motor function and behavioral changes.
Other signs and symptoms of child lead poisoning may include:
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Digestive problems
- Developmental delay
- Learning difficulties
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Sluggishness and fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Hearing loss
- Learning difficulties
- Decreased rate of growth
Other Sources of Child Lead Exposure
There are items other than paint that may cause your child to be exposed to unwanted levels of lead. It is important to know where to find the lead, so you may protect your child or find the source of the problem if your child shows any symptoms of lead poisoning.
Plumbing pipes. Lead pipes, brass plumbing fixtures and copper pipes fused together with lead can release lead particles into tap water.
Imported canned goods. Using lead in food cans is banned in the United States.
However, lead is still used to solder food cans in some countries. The Los Angeles Times reported in 1993, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates 230 million pounds of imported food packaged in lead-soldered cans is sold in the United States each year. The figure represents as much as 10% of total food imports.”
Soil. Lead particles can settle on the soil from leaded gasoline or paint cans. Contaminated soil is a major problem around highways and in some urban settings. Soil near older houses may contain lead.
Water. Copper plumbing fused together with lead is a common source of contamination of tap water.
Household dust. Household dust can contain lead from lead paint chips or contaminated soil brought in from outside.
Pottery. Glazes used on china, ceramics and porcelain, can contain lead that may leach into food.
Toys. You may find lead in toys and other products produced abroad.
Traditional cosmetics. Testing samples of kohl eyeliner often reveal high levels of lead.
Folk remedies. Particular non-traditional folk remedies are known to contain large quantities of lead. The CDC lists several dangerous traditional remedies that should be avoided. Greta and Azarcon (also known as alarcon, coral, luiga, maria luisa, or rueda), Ghasard, Ba-baw-san and Daw Tway are some of the folk medicines that contain dangerously high levels of lead that can cause lead poisoning.
Reducing the Risk of Lead Poisoning Injury
There are ways to reduce some risk that your child will develop a lead exposure injury. Simple things can go a long way toward preventing the damage that can result from lead. The Environmental Protection Agency advises that you consider taking the following steps:
- Inspect and maintain all painted surfaces to prevent paint deterioration
- Address water damage quickly and completely
- Keep your home clean and dust-free
- Clean around painted areas where friction can generate dust, such as doors, windows, and drawers. Wipe these areas with a wet sponge or rag to remove paint chips or dust
- Use only cold water to prepare food and drinks
- Flush water outlets used for drinking or food preparation
- Clean debris out of outlet screens or faucet aerators on a regular basis
- Wash children’s hands, bottles, pacifiers and toys often
- Teach children to wipe and remove their shoes and wash hands after playing outdoors
- Ensure that your family members eat well-balanced meals. Children with healthy diets absorb less lead than children with poor diets
- Talk to your state or county health department about testing your home for lead
If your child has been exposed to lead in your home or elsewhere, it is important that you seek medical help quickly. Small amounts of lead can irreparably harm a young child. The child lead injury attorneys at Farris, Riley & Pitt can help you determine if someone acted negligently and contributed to your child’s injuries. If you are entitled to compensation for medical expenses or pain and suffering, we can help you navigate a child lead poisoning injury lawsuit.