Lead is a very toxic substance that can cause serious injuries such as kidney and brain damage. Young children are especially at risk. Exposure to lead-based paint is the most common cause of Chicago lead poisoning though many other forms of exposure are common as well. If you are living in a residence built in the late 1970s or earlier, lead paint may have been used and you or your loved ones could be at risk.
The risk of newer homes containing lead paint is much lower because the U.S. U.S. government banned the sale of lead based paint in 1978. Though more than 30 years have passed since its ban, lead paint continues to be common in millions of buildings across the nation, many of which are in Illinois and in Chicago in particular. Early symptoms of lead exposure and poisoning may not be readily apparent and it can make it difficult to determine who has been placed in danger as a result.
If you have children and you live in an older home and you suspect lead exposure, it is a good idea to have their blood checked for lead. Damage from lead poisoning is permanent, but the condition is treatable before damage is done. Children are the most at risk because their brain and central nervous system is still developing. Injuries from lead exposure can include stunted growth, kidney damage, mental retardation, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, and death. However, lead poisoning affects victims of all ages so anyone residing in the home or spending time there may be in danger.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that four million children are currently living in homes that have unsafe levels of lead present. Since lead exposure does not always present with symptoms, the parents of many of these children might not be aware of the dangerous nature of their homes. Exposure to lead can affect every organ in the body, including the brain, and can cause permanent and lasting effects.
Through a focus on household paint, much of the lead has been removed from the homes of children. However, many consumer products still contain unsafe levels of lead paint. Recently it has been discovered that some popular toys manufactured outside of the United States, but sold in the U.S., contain unsafe lead levels. Over the past few years, Illinois parents have spent a significant amount of time trying to determine which toys have been recalled for lead issues.
Lead poisoning is completely preventable. By taking appropriate actions, not one single child needs to be exposed to lead again. Experts agree that the best way to treat the injuries caused by lead poisoning is to prevent exposure to lead in the first place.
The first step in determining whether your child is being exposed to lead is to determine the year in which your home was built. Since lead paint was banned in 1978, those homes built before then are of particular concern. Many older homes have had lead paint removed and replaced with a safe, non-lead paint, but not every dwelling has taken these steps. Many landlords have been unwilling to undergo the expense associated with lead paint removal and therefore choose to let the unsafe paint remain on the walls of their properties.
Lead paint is not only hazardous to those who come into physical contact with it but also to those who are merely in its presence. This is because household dust from homes with lead paint has been proven to contain lead as well, meaning that simply breathing the air in a home with lead paint can cause a dangerous exposure to lead.
The biggest problem comes from deteriorating paint from prior to 1978. With deteriorating paint, the paint chips and flakes away from the surface of an object, like a wall, and allows a child to obtain access to the paint itself. Since small children, primarily those aged six and under, tend to touch everything and put objects in their mouths, these children are at a much higher risk for exposure to flaking paint than are their adult counterparts. If you live in a home built prior to 1978, you should contact the local governmental office that handles lead paint problems in your city and determine the necessary steps to arrange an inspection. If your paint is deteriorating, you should separate your children from the deteriorating paint until a proper inspection can occur. Children’s hands and toys should be washed often to remove dust that may contain lead and to limit the child’s exposure to the toxic chemical.
Lead poisoning commonly occurs through extended exposure to the toxin. This means that over time, the lead in a child’s system continues to increase until it reaches a dangerous level. The injuries associated with lead poisoning become more severe and can even cause death as lead levels increase, making it extremely important that you act as quickly as possible to limit any child’s exposure to lead.
Illinois law requires property owners to take certain steps to make the premises safe and habitable for you and for your children. When a landlord fails to follow the law, there may be a possibility for a financial recovery against that owner. If your child has been diagnosed with lead poisoning, you should consider contacting the experienced lead poisoning attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. to learn about your legal rights. We are standing by 24 hours a day to take your call locally at (312) 924-7575 or toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442) and there is never an obligation on your part for taking advantage of a free case consultation.
If your child has had positive tests for elevated lead levels, request a Free Case Consultation or call (855) LAW-CHICAGO to speak with a lawyer now.