Blood Lead Levels In Children – Painting A Complete Picture

9/14/2016

Concern over elevated blood lead levels in children, especially those under the age of six, has been the subject of much discussion and news coverage over the years. The easiest target for both governmental agencies and plaintiffs' attorneys alike to focus their attention on is the paint industry, since before 1978, lead was used as one ingredient in the manufacture of paint in the United States. As such, homes built before 1978 are the most likely to contain remnants of paint in them that may contain lead. As a result of extensive political lobbying in the 1970s, many states now have very strict laws that hold homeowners and landlords liable for any harm caused by the presence of lead paint in homes in which children reside. If media coverage of the issue, such as the Boston Globe's August 17, 2016 article is to be believed, the story might end there, with lead paint being the only culprit in the roughly 3,700 cases of reported elevated blood lead levels in Massachusetts in 2015. While lead paint must certainly be properly contained in homes in which children reside, seeing the risk only from lead paint misses the forest for the trees.

Thanks largely to the drinking water conditions in Flint, Michigan, many states and cities have begun testing their water supplies for lead, since many water pipes were installed in municipalities prior to the ban on lead pipes in the 1930s. In addition, it was permissible to use lead-based solder for plumbing repairs to pipes until 1986, which can act as a further source of lead ingestion as it slowly leeches into the drinking water running through the pipes. From 2014 until 2016, Boston tested drinking fountains in 293 public schools within city limits and found 20 schools with lead levels above regulatory limits from drinking water sources. The number of schools tested represents only a fraction of the 7,000 schools and early intervention centers state-wide. Other cities in Massachusetts, such as Newton and Natick, found similar lead levels above permissible limits in the drinking fountains in some of their schools.

Lead particles can be found in a host of other items even today, such as toys manufactured overseas, ceramic glazing, turmeric spices from certain sources, soil and sand contaminated from decades of leaded gasoline emissions from cars and trucks, cosmetics, imported cans sealed with lead solder, certain candies imported from Mexico, cathode tubes in old televisions or computer monitors - the list goes on and on. All of these are a potential source of lead particles, which can cause elevated blood lead levels if the particles are ingested. With numerous states spending many years and tax dollars on publicizing the potential risks of lead paint, it is no surprise that the common misconception is that lead paint is the only major cause of elevated blood lead levels in children. In reality, at the very low blood lead levels typically seen in children today, a child's lead level is easily elevated by ingesting a relatively small amount of lead-containing dust from any source .

Governo Law Firm has represented clients in lead poisoning claims for three decades throughout the United States. We stay current with scientific, medical, and legal developments in lead poisoning, as well as other toxic torts, including asbestos, benzene, and mold. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact David Governo (dgoverno@governo.com) or John Gardella (jgardella@governo.com).