What You Need to Know about Lead Paint & Lead Poisoning in New York

Lead poisoning is a surprisingly common occurrence in New York City. This is especially troubling because lead poisoning can cause serious health problems and even death. Since the 1970s, state and federal government has been trying to eliminate lead-paint exposure. Unfortunately, the process has been slow-going and people continue to be victimized by lead paint to this day.

What Is Lead And Lead Poisoning?

Lead is a metal that harms people when it gets in their bodies. According to the New York Department of Health, lead can be found in a variety of sources:

  • Dust
  • Air
  • Water
  • Soil
  • Household Products – toys and cosmetics

Lead poisoning results when lead builds up in the victim’s body, over years or months. According to the Mayo Clinic, lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the most common sources of lead poisoning in children. Dust and paint containing lead are usually found in buildings constructed before the 1970s.

Detecting Lead Paint And Lead Poisoning Testing

Lead paint can be detected by a simple kit carried by most hardware and paint stores. Of course, you should follow directions and exercise caution around paint that may be lead-based. Another option is to defer to the professionals and contact a company that detects lead paint.

Lead poisoning in humans and animals can be detected through a simple blood test that measures detectable lead levels in the blood stream. However, most people suffering from lead poisoning do not know the cause of their ailments and do not consider lead as the potential cause. Knowing the symptoms and warning signs of lead poisoning can save a person from needlessly suffering and sustaining permanent damage to their body.

The Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

Diagnosis of lead-paint poisoning can be difficult because people often look and feel healthy, even with high levels of lead in their blood. It usually takes a long period of exposure and accumulation of lead before strong symptoms manifest. The Mayo Clinic lists the following as indicators of lead poisoning in children:

  • Irritability
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Paleness from anemia
  • Difficulty learning (children & newborns)
  • Slowed growth (newborns)

Different symptoms may manifest in adults with lead poisoning, they include:

  • Pain, numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Muscle weakness, fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Memory loss
  • Mood disorders
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Miscarriage, premature birth

Treatment of Lead Poisoning

If someone is demonstrating symptoms of lead poisoning or have been exposed to lead, they should visit a doctor. Various treatments are available depending on the victim and the level of lead they have in their bloodstream. Some of the remedies include:

  • Ingestion of iron, calcium and zinc
  • Bowel irrigation
  • Anti-convulsants
  • Medication to reduce swelling of brain
  • Chelation therapy

After Diagnosis, Report Exposure and Seek Legal Representation

If you or your child has a blood-lead level of 10 mcg/dL or higher, the health care facility is required to report your case to the state. However, if you have any detrimental levels of lead in your blood, call 311 to report to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. If you believe the lead exposure came from a particular building, then a supervisor should be notified immediately.

Lastly, ensure you contact a reputable New York attorney experienced in lead poisoning cases. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you obtain compensation for any past, present or continuing medical ailments associated with the lead exposure.

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Lead Paint Still a Problem in NYC: The EPA’s New Rule

In 1978, the ban on lead paint was instituted largely due to health concerns regarding lead poisoning in children. Despite the ban, lead paint is still a prevalent problem existing in many housing units and child-care facilities through New York City.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead paint still remains in nearly 24 million housing units. If left untouched, the paint typically poses no health risks; however, any demolition, cutting, or even sanding, can cause lead chips and dust to be released in the air, creating the potential for lead poisoning in both children and adults.

Symptoms Of Lead Poisoning

For adults, high levels of lead paint exposure can cause high blood pressure, memory and concentration problems, muscle and joint pain and reproductive problems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, children are much more susceptible to lead poisoning, with unborn children or fetuses being the most vulnerable.

According to the National Institutes of Health, children with lead poisoning can exhibit any of the following symptoms and injuries:

  • Abdominal pain, which is typically the first sign of a toxic dose
  • Anemia
  • Trouble sleeping or irritability
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Loss of previous developmental skills in younger children
  • Low appetite and energy

New EPA Rule

In April of this year, a new rule governing lead paint instituted by the Environmental Protection Agency took effect. Called, “The Renovation, Repair, & Painting Rule,” it sets out new requirements for contractors who are involved in renovation or painting projects that disturb lead paint in child care facilities, schools and homes built before 1978.

According to the rule, contractors who perform work, or the firms that employ the contractors, must be certified by the EPA in lead-safe practices to prevent lead contamination in the work area. Contractors must:

  • Contain the work area
  • Take steps and use techniques to minimize dust
  • Clean the area thoroughly

The new rule also eliminates the “opt out” procedure for owner occupants. Under this exemption, owner-occupants could certify that no child under six years of age or pregnant women lived in the home or facility and could opt out of having their contractors use lead-safe practices. This exemption still exposed adults to harmful lead contamination that could lead to full-blown lead poisoning. Fortunately, owner-occupants no longer have the option to opt out.

Working With An Attorney

If you suspect that you or your child has been exposed to lead paint and suffered any changes in behavior or exhibited any signs of lead poisoning, it is important to work with an attorney experienced in handling lead poisoning cases.

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Lead-Based Paint Is The Leading Cause of Lead Poisoning

Lead is a known toxin that contains a heavy metal and was commonly used to speed up the drying process in paint. Lead paint was banned in the United States in 1978 due to the health dangers it poses. Exposure to lead poisoning is extremely dangerous, even in small amounts.

Who is at Risk?

Children are more susceptible to lead paint poisoning than adults. In fact, the same amount of exposure to lead dust or flakes will show itself in higher amounts in a child’s blood than in an adult’s blood. Lead poisoning can cause injuries such as  severe headaches, neurological damage and even brain damage. Most lead paint found in the United States these days is in houses that were built and painted before 1978.

It is estimated that 24 million American homes still have significant lead-based paint issues. As paint ages, it can chip and crack and create paint dust deposits on many surfaces of the house. If the paint dust contains lead, it can lead to the occupants of the home contracting lead poisoning.

What is Being Done to Reduce Risk?

The Environmental Protective Agency has raised its standards on how to deal with lead paint, to prevent more cases of lead poisoning. As of April 22, 2010, the EPA finalized its requirements regarding lead paint so that anyone who will be handling or removing lead paint must be trained and certified to do so.

There have been recent efforts to make the public more aware of the problem posed by lead paint. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced $13 million in grants to 25 local projects that will concentrate on eliminating lead paint and educating the public about the dangers of lead poisoning. In just the past year alone, HUD awarded over $232 million in Lead and Healthy home grants. The public is encouraged to use the 800-424-LEAD (5323) hotline to report lead paint problems and non-compliance by contractors who are removing lead-based paint without following the new safety standards.

“Lead poisoning is a costly, tragic and irreversible environmental disease that robs children of their ability to reach their full potential – yet it is entirely preventable,” said Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. “That is why we teamed with our partners at the EPA, HUD and the Ad Council to launch this national lead poisoning prevention and awareness campaign. Together, we can make lead history.”

The Public Service Advertising campaign is targeting parents of young children and pregnant women to educate them about the dangers of lead poisoning. The ad campaign includes television, radio, print, outdoor and Web advertising in both English and Spanish.

Speak to an Attorney

If you feel that you or a loved one may have contracted lead poisoning due to contact with lead paint, it is important to speak to an attorney in your area today. You may be entitled to compensation for from the responsible parties. A lawyer can answer any questions you may have about your situation and explain your legal rights and options.

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Committee Recommends CDC Diagnose Lead Poisoning at Lower Blood Levels

An advisory committee to a key federal government health agency recently recommended lowering the level of lead needed in a child’s blood to attach a medical diagnosis of “lead poisoning.” If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adopts its committee’s nonbinding recommendation, the official diagnosis would attach at a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood, rather than at the current BLL of 10 ug/dl.

The CDC sets national public health policy and practice on acceptable lead levels in children and adults. The Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention – or ACCLPP – advised the CDC in January 2012, based on scientific evidence, that no level of lead is safe for the human body and that significant health problems from lead poisoning can present in children with BLLs between 5 and 10.

Presumably, official recognition of poisoning at a lower BLL will spur medical and environmental interventions sooner for more at-risk children. According to The Atlantic, about 250,000 U.S. kids have BLLs at 10 or higher, and lowering the diagnosis level to 5 BLL would raise the total children diagnosed with lead poisoning to 450,000. That is a lot more children that could be kept from potentially permanent impairment.

Why Does This Matter?

Lead is potentially dangerous for everyone, especially young children, nursing babies and their mothers, not to mention pregnant women and their unborn children.

Lead can wreak havoc on developing children, causing problems like:

  • Developmental delays
  • Lower IQ
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Learning disabilities
  • Behavior problems

For children, lead exposure comes primarily from two sources: paint and toys, with water and soil next in line. Paint made before 1978 that is present in many homes and apartments may be ingested by kids by eating peeled paint or by exposure to lead-laced dust.

There has been no shortage of news stories about toys and other objects coming into the U.S. that contain lead, often harming or even killing children who eat parts or are exposed to the tainted paint, plastic or metal in the products.

Sadly, kids with high lead levels may not show outward symptoms that would prompt intervention. New York, however, requires early BLL testing of children and ongoing physician discussions with caregivers about possible exposures.

Another insidious problem with lead is that it lurks in the body and its negative health impact is often not reversible, potentially causing medical problems over a lifespan. For example, pregnancy and lactation cause the leaching of lead long stored in the mother’s bones. This hidden lead source may then enter the fetus or breast milk.

New York law at all levels sets strict lead abatement standards for property owners and landlords of older property at higher risk of containing lead-based paint. Anyone who has suffered from lead exposure in a residential, day care or school setting should discuss possible legal remedies with an experienced New York personal injury attorney.

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New York City Lead Paint Remediation

Legal Removal of Hazardous Lead

Handling Injury Cases Resulting from Exposure to Toxic Substances Since 1981

Similar to laws governing the handling and removal of asbestos, New York City laws pertaining to lead exposure require the safe removal of lead when lead threatens the safety of building inhabitants and in other circumstances. For instance, local laws, including Local Law #1, require the safe removal of lead from day care facilities.

Landlords and other property owners cannot simply tear down walls or paint over lead paint. New York law strictly governs lead paint remediation. For example:

  • Lead paint removal must be performed by a person who has successfully completed a course on lead-safe work practices given by or on behalf of approved agencies, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  • Lead-contaminated dust clearance testing must be performed at the completion of remediation work.

New York City law also governs decisions regarding when lead paint remediation is legally required and when it is not.

If you have questions regarding lead paint poisoning and your rights to remediation and legal financial compensation, contact the New York lead paint attorneys at The Orlow Firm.

Our representation in lead paint claims has two purposes. First, we want to make certain our clients obtain the compensation they need to make the best possible recovery. Secondly, we are focused on making dwellings and business spaces safe and lead free.

Contact the Orlow Firm

We offer free initial consultations and operate four offices across New York City for your convenience. We can go to you if you cannot come to us.

To contact a lawyer, call (646) 647-3398.

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