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The Effects of Lead Poisoning: More Dangerous Than Previously Thought

According to a recent article, the effects of lead poisoning in children are even more dangerous than previously believed. Last month, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set the new “action level” at five micrograms of lead per deciliter (a 10th of a liter) of blood. Doctors used to consider 10 micrograms per deciliter dangerous.

The article notes that, “Under the old standard, lead poisoning in children had been declining in the U.S. Experts estimated that somewhere between 77,000 and 255,000 children have high levels of lead, though many of them are undiagnosed. The change could raise the count to 450,000 cases.”

Additionally, according to the CDC, “Today at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to lead. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.”

This means children could be at risk of suffering consequences of lead poisoning with less exposure to lead than medical professionals originally thought.

Lead is an extremely toxic substance that can cause serious injuries such as kidney and brain damage. Young children are especially at risk. One of the most typically causes of lead poisoning stems from exposure to lead-based paint. This means that if you are living in a residence built in the late 1970’s or earlier, it is very likely that lead paint has been used and you or your loved ones could be at risk. The fact is that even though the U.S. government banned the sale of lead based paint in 1978, millions of buildings still contain lead paint.

Injuries from the effects of lead exposure can include:

  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Kidney damage
  • Learning disabilities
  • Mental retardation
  • Stunted growth
  • Death

If you have children and you live in an older home, it is a good idea to have their blood checked for elevated lead levels. Damage from lead poisoning is permanent, but the condition is treatable before damage is done. Lead exposure in children is much more dangerous than in adults, because children’s brain and central nervous system are still developing.

There are a number of steps that you can take to prevent the effects of lead poisoning:

  • Isolate or eliminate all sources of lead. Parents should keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls. Even temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape can cover holes in walls or block children’s access to other sources of lead.
  • Pregnant women and children should not be near housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. They especially should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed.
  • Children should be prevented from playing in bare soil, which often contains lead if near structures. Planting grass on areas of bare soil or covering the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips, can help.
  • Regularly wash children’s hands and toys. Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil, which might contain lead.
  • Talk about testing paint and dust from your home for lead with your state or local health department.
  • Windowsills and wells can contain high levels of leaded dust. To keep them clean, wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every 2-3 weeks.

Discovering that lead may be even more dangerous than we previously believed is troubling. If your child has had positive tests for elevated lead levels, request a Free Case Consultation to speak with a lawyer.

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