Lead Paint Poisoning From Poorly Maintained Homes Delays CDC Goal

Federal health officials have indicated that they will have to revise their prior goal of eliminating lead poisoning this year, due to pockets of rental units and homes in urban areas across the U.S. that are still not in compliance with lead paint safety measures. 

Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told the New York Times last week that they will likely miss their 2010 goal of total lead poisoning elimination due to housing in poor, urban areas that are still subjecting children to lead exposure due to poor maintenance of lead paint.

One of the more common causes of lead exposure in the United States is lead-based paint, which was banned in 1978 due to the risk of severe and permanent brain damage and developmental problems, particularly in children. However, a number of older homes still contain the toxic paint on the walls, and if it flakes or peals off, young children residing in the home may ingest the paint chips or breathe dust that comes from the paint, resulting in lead poisoning.

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Lead Poisoning Lawsuits

Children diagnosed with lead poisoning after exposure to peeling or chipping lead paint in a rental home may be entitled to financial compensation and benefits.

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Lead paint poisoning can result in nervous system injury, brain damage, seizures or convulsions, growth or mental retardation, coma and even death for young children. Lawsuits over lead paint poisoning have been filed against landlords and property owners who failed to correctly clean up remnants of lead paint or properly minimize lead exposure to children living in their properties.

CDC officials say that lead paint laws and enforcement on the local level has lagged in heavily urbanized, poor areas. In some cases, the local municipalities have not passed laws that require landlords to check for the possibility of lead exposure in rental units housing children. In other instances, where lead paint laws are in place, enforcement has been lax.

For example, federal reviewers found that in Bushwick, Brooklyn, which has had lead paint compliance laws since 2004, 59 percent of tenants reported that their landlords were not in compliance with inspection provisions in the law.

Federal regulators say that true elimination of the problem may still be years away.

The CDC considers 10 milligrams of lead per deciliter of blood to be the level of concern for exposure to lead. The CDC estimates that approximately 250,000 children in the U.S. have blood lead levels that high or higher.

Some experts are saying that the number considered a level of concern needs to be dropped as low as 5 milligrams per deciliter to truly protect children. The calls for lowering the level of concern follow recent research that has highlighted the effects of even low levels of exposure to lead on children. Recent studies have tied low lead exposure to the development of kidney damage and depression and panic disorders.


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