Lead Poisoning and Lead-Based Paint Exposure


Lead Poisoning and Lead-Based Paint Exposure

Elemental lead is a naturally occurring, bluish-gray metal found in small amounts in certain rocks and soils. Lead has no distinctive taste or smell. Lead and lead compounds are used in storage batteries, ammunition, metal products (solder and pipes), roofing, gasoline, and devices used to shield people from x-rays. Lead can also be found in many other products, as well.

However, due to a variety of health and poisoning concerns, lead has been banned from gasoline, ceramic products, paints for residential use, and solder used on food cans. Click on Frequently Asked Questions: Lead, to learn more about this issue.

Industrially, lead and lead-contaminated dusts are released into the environment from the burning of fossil fuels and waste, whereas workplace exposures come mostly from dusty environments. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust from said type of paint are the primary sources of lead exposure within the home. The prevention of adverse health effects to children resulting from lead exposure remains a major public health effort.

Lead poisoning occurs from swallowing lead (i.e. lead paint chips) or from breathing lead paint dust. Even small amounts of chipped lead based paint or dust can be dangerous to children. Children face a greater risk of lead contamination than adults because their growing bodies absorb lead more easily than adult bodies do. In the United States about 900,000 children ages 1 to 5 have an above normal blood-lead level.

Early detection is crucial. If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from damage to the brain and nervous system, as well as suffer from behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and headaches.

Lead exposure is also harmful to adults. Adults who have high levels of lead in their system can also suffer from difficulties in pregnancy, other reproductive problems, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorder, memory and concentration problems, and muscle-joint pain.

While there are many sources of lead in the human environment, lead-based paint hazards in residential housing are considered the primary source of lead exposure. In 1978 the federal government banned the use of lead-base paint. As such, if you live in a home or building built prior to the 1978 ban, it is very possible that lead paint was used. Peeling paint is a clear signal that lead paint may have been used in your home.

In 1978, Congress banned the use of lead in paint and gasoline, but it can still be found in the environment in house dust and paint chips, particularly in poorer neighborhoods. Lead-based paints were commonly used in the 1950s and ’60s. According to the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, 30 million U.S. homes built before 1960 still have lead based paint in them.

Paint makers have faced a number of lawsuits over lead paint since 1989. Paint companies that produced lead-based paint in the past include Benjamin Moore & Co., Sherwin-Williams Co., Atlantic Richfield Co., NL Industries Inc., E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., and Glidden Co. Defendants in such cases have banded together to defend lawsuits against the industry.

In response to lawsuits and other accusations, paint manufacturers have argued that, unlike tobacco companies, they never deceived anyone. The industry contends that it funded the research into the dangers of lead paint and once a health hazard was proven, they voluntarily pulled lead the paint off the market nearly 50 years ago.

Of the lawsuits that have been resolved, the former manufacturers have not lost or settled a single case. To date manufacturers have had significant success avoiding liability, however, increased scrutiny may make it possible for you to recover for the damages that you have sustained. Suits against landlords, however, have been more successful. Landlords who do not maintain their properties by removing lead-based paint, or fail to cover it with a new coat of lead-free paint or wallpaper can be held liable if an injury or health problem that was caused by the paint chips.

Many states have now taken steps in lead paint litigation against former lead-based paint manufacturers. In fact, Rhode Island was the first state to file a lawsuit holding the paint companies responsible for creating hazards that have poisoned thousands of children. The suit is being closely watched by the industry as well as by many other states looking for money to help clean up housing that continue to create hazards due to lead.

In all Toxic Tort cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the incident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you believe that you or a loved one is a victim of an injury caused by a toxic substance, call Brotman Nusbaum Ibrahim & Adelman now at (888) 661-6266 or contact our firm by visiting our contact page. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will pursue it on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don’t delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.

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