Thousands of children in the United States with hazardous levels of lead in their blood may not get the help they need this year because local health departments lack sufficient funds to monitor them.
According to USA Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reduced the amount of lead exposure that requires medical attention for children younger than 6. At the same time, the budget for the federal agency’s lead prevention program was almost entirely wiped out.
If a child has an unhealthy level of lead in the blood, health departments typically carry out a home inspection to determine the probable sources of lead poisoning there and continuously monitor the child to ensure improvement in his or her blood lead levels. The new standard for lead exposure is 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in the blood of a young child. Most local health departments admit that they can’t offer home inspection services to all children who meet this new standard.
A budget shortfall at the federal level may be to blame. The budget for the CDC’s lead prevention program was significantly reduced this year, from $29 million to just $2 million. This is concerning to our lead poisoning lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm because this likely means that services will be reduced despite the fact that lead may cause serious adverse effects at even lower levels than previously believed.
Some other relevant findings of the USA Today survey, which covered 21 city health departments, include:
- Twenty departments provide home inspections for blood lead levels exceeding 10, while a few perform these inspections only for lead levels of 20 or more.
- Portland in Oregon is the only city that performs automatic home inspections to find out the trigger item in the child’s environment responsible for lead poisoning at the new threshold of 5.
- In Providence, Phoenix, Oklahoma City and Nashville, the minimum blood-lead level that would prompt a home inspection is 20.
Some of the possible sources of lead poisoning are house dust, lead-based paint, contaminated soil, toys, water, candy, imported spices and other food items.
The injuries that children suffer from lead poisoning are severe. Recently, a 6-month-old baby boy had to be treated for lead poisoning that developed from using “tiro,” a Nigerian eye cosmetic. The cosmetic is a folk remedy used to boost visual development.
It was a casual visit to a pediatrician in 2011 that prompted a testing of the child’s blood for lead. The physician noticed the cosmetic on the infant’s eyelids and performed the test. The boy was treated with iron supplements and referred for additional hospital evaluation.
A CDC report says that 82.6 percent of the powdery cosmetic was lead. It
was an investigation that determined tiro to be the source of lead in
the child’s blood. Investigators had inspected the family’s
home and found it to be in good condition and devoid of lead hazards.
The eye cosmetic was to blame.
Lead is a very toxic metal that can damage the brain, bone marrow, kidneys and/or other organs. Young children are particularly vulnerable to lead and likely to suffer severe injuries due to lead exposure.
If your child is suffering the harmful effects of lead exposure, contact one of our lead poisoning attorneys immediately in order to learn more about your legal rights.