Last week was National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week! Every year, from October 25- 31, government agencies and non-profits work to raise awareness of lead poisoning across communities. This includes agencies like the CDC and the EPA, as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
While lead is a naturally occurring element and has certain beneficial uses, it can be toxic to both humans and animals if it enters their systems. There are no safe levels of lead, especially for children, and it can severely affect brain development and lead to cognitive and behavioral difficulties.
Lead poisoning can be caused by many factors, but the most significant sources are tap water due to old pipes and lead paint.
Nearly 45 million Americans have been using water that didn’t match health standards in any year between 1982 to 2015. In Flint, Michigan, testing revealed that 17% of homes exceeded the 15 parts per billion (ppb) lead limit set by the EPA in 2016. More than 40% of these measured above 5 ppb of lead.
In 2017, testing at some sites in Newark places saw levels as high as 820 ppb of lead. And in 2019, 10% of children in Milwaukee tested positive for dangerous levels of lead in their blood, caused by peeling lead paint in home built before the 1950s.
Lead poisoning is happening across the United States, maybe even in your own home. So, how can you tell if your family is suffering from lead poisoning? We created a handy guide:
Signs of Lead Poisoning
Children are the most vulnerable to the effects of lead poisoning. Lead causes irreversible difficulties in growth and development- according to the CDC, even low levels of lead may affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement in children.
Some other effects of lead poisoning in children are:
- Difficulty in learning and processing language
- Issues with speech
- Delays in mental growth and development
- Behavioral disorders
- Intellectual retardation
- Coma or death
Short term exposure to lead in vast amounts can cause these symptoms, even among adults:
- Stomach pain and gastrointestinal issues
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of memory
- Pain or tingling in limbs
If this exposure to lead continues over a long time, a person might also feel depressed, irritable, forgetful, and nauseous. Prolonged exposure to lead can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease, infertility, and increase cancer risks.
What To Do To Prevent Lead Exposure
If you suspect your child or other family member is suffering from lead poisoning, get them tested immediately. The CDC suggests that children can be given a blood test to check the levels of lead in their blood. This is, however, only useful to understand short term exposure. Bone lead testing is a better option to determine whether a person has lead in their system due to long term exposure.
If a child has a blood lead test result greater than or equal to 45 micrograms per deciliter, experts recommend chelation therapy, where a synthetic chemical is pumped into the bloodstream to remove lead from the body.
Of course, since the effects of lead exposure are irreversible, the best step we can take is to prevent lead exposure from happening at all.
Here is a list of things you can do to lower your chances of lead exposure:
- Prevent paint from peeling and maintain all painted surfaces carefully
- Repair water damage promptly
- Clean your house thoroughly at regular intervals
- Wipe around areas where paint can be rubbed off. Use a wet sponge to clean away paint chips or dust
- If you suspect that you have lead in your water, use cold water to prepare food
- Regularly flush water outlets which are used for preparing food or for drinking water
- Regularly clean pacifiers and baby toys, and ensure you don’t leave them on the floor for too long
- Ensure that children wash their hands after they are outdoors, remove their shoes, or touch any surface with peeling paint
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We Can Help You
It’s unfortunate that the United States is undergoing a lead poisoning crisis. Drinking water should be safe, and paint manufacturers should make sure that they use non-toxic materials. Remain vigilant and ensure your family is safe and well-protected.
If you live in a city like Flint, Newark, Milwaukee, or any other city with a sizeable lead poisoning problem, you may be entitled to substantial compensation from those who caused the problem due to their neglect. Reach out to our experienced team of lawyers to understand what you could do if your family has been affected by lead poisoning. You can consult us for free and you don’t pay a single penny until you receive a settlement or a verdict.