Lead is a toxic metal. Lead based paint is one of the leading causes of lead poisoning in the United States. According to the data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 250,000 children under the age of 5, suffering from lead paint poisoning in the USA, including the city of Cincinnati, where many houses are still contaminated with poisonous lead paint.
According to the guideline from the National Institutes of Health, lead paint poisoning can affect nearly any organ of the human body. When lead is taken into the body it is stored in the bones.
Children are at significantly higher danger of lead paint poisoning because it can damage nerve and brain development which impairs long term health. The younger the child, the more dangerous and harmful lead is for healthy growth and development.
Joseph Lyon is a Cincinnati Catastrophic Injury lawyer and Ohio toxic exposure attorney actively involved in toxic tort litigation nationwide. For a no-cost and confidential consultation on the legal aspects of a lead poisoning lawsuit, call (800) 513-2403.
Household Lead Exposure
It remains imperative in American households, particularly in older homes and buildings, to eliminate persistent sources of lead, such as lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust that may lead to serious health issues in children and adults.
Lead poisoning occurs when the toxic mineral builds up in the body over months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children under six years old are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, and may severely affect mental and physical development. At extremely high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal. Taking precautions against lead exposure can help protect you and your family before severe damage is done.
Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in aging buildings are still common sources of lead poisoning for children. Other sources include contaminated air, water and land. Adults may be occupationally exposed to lead in industries where workers handle batteries, do home renovations or work in auto repair shops.
Common Sources of Lead Exposure
Children are exposed to lead from paints, and also a variety of other products. Adults may also be exposed through different sources such as the following:
- Cosmetic products
- Contaminated water
- School buildings and paint
- Lead-based paint
- Artificial Turf
- Certain candy
- Folk Medicine
- Household dust
- Contaminated soil
Symptoms of Lead Exposure & Illness
Lead exposure can affect the entire body, and as slow poisoning often produces no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized and may lead to serious health issues. Lead poisoning is particularly dangerous to infants and young children.
No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. While recommendations for lead screening differ from state to state, all states require children to be screened for lead exposure. Signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children include:
- Developmental delay
- Learning difficulties
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Sluggishness & fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Hearing loss
The Complications of Lead Exposure
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that at least 4 million American households have high levels of lead and have children exposed. Children diagnosed with lead poisoning often suffer from several issues:
- Behavioral disorders
- Hearing loss
- Attention deficit disorder
- Learning disabilities
- Mental retardation
- Neurological and renal damage
- Stunted growth
Lead Poisoning: The Dangers of Adult Exposure
It is widely understood that lead exposure deeply affects young children, but acute and long-term lead exposure can also pose serious dangers to pregnant women and exposed workers. Lead exposure exists in battery plants, smelting plants, and auto shops.
Painters and workers with occupations involving welding, soldering, the chemical industry, foundries, gasoline refineries and the copper industry may be exposed and may also bring lead dust home, which may harm children present.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes that over 800,000 industrial workers and an additional 838,000 workers in construction may potentially be exposed to lead.
Ohio Lead Poison Cases
Lead Paint Poisoning: (Cincinnati, Ohio): The Lyon Firm has obtained several confidential settlements for children who have suffered brain injury due to toxic lead exposure. Landlord had violated local housing codes allowing the residence to become a toxic hazard. The settlement will provide for resources for the Plaintiff to seek specialized education to address ongoing learning disabilities.
- In 2004, the threat of lead poisoning from toy jewelry led the CPSC to issue a voluntary recall of 150 million pieces of metal toy jewelry sold in vending machines.
- In 2007, the CPSC issued a press release announcing the Fisher-Price recall of 967,000 toys due to lead poisoning hazard.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brought a lawsuit against Meyer Management, Inc. in Cincinnati for their negligent caring of lead within their rental properties.
The suit arose after it was revealed that five children who lived in Meyer Management and lead hazard properties and were experiencing lead poisoning. The settlement requires Meyer to replace all of the windows in their 200+ properties, and deal with the lead paint present in the complexes. The company also must pay thousands as a civil penalty.
The dangers of lead paint far outweigh the inaction of taking care of lead in living conditions. Thus, remediation and penalties are appropriate. Read more about Meyer Management and lead paint hazard, as well as Cincinnati lead poisoning discrepancies here.
Lead Paint Poisoning Injuries
Chronic lead paint poisoning in children is associated with brain injuries in children resulting in:
- Learning disabilities
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- Behavioral issues
- Decrease in IQ
- Decrease in brain size
Lead Paint Poisoning Diagnosis
Lead paint poisoning in children is diagnosed when the amount of lead in blood reaches .05 micrograms per deciliter or more. Blood lead tests can be made virtually at any medical facility. These tests are inexpensive or even free at some locations. Residents of Cincinnati may contact the Cincinnati Health Department for information on blood lead tests.
Child Lead Paint Exposure
It is often mistaken that children get lead paint poisoning by eating paint chips. According to Cincinnati’s Community Development Housing Division, “one of the primary sources of Cincinnati lead poisoning is lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings.”
Although a house may look clean, deteriorated lead-paint mixes with household dust and becomes easier to inhale or ingest. Lead paint poisoning in children typically occurs when a child puts their hands in their mouth after touching a contaminated object, puts a contaminated object directly into their mouth. In homes, concentrated levels of lead paint are usually found in wooden windows, casings, and sills, wooden doors and casings, plaster walls, stairs, railings, and banisters.
In addition to deteriorating lead based paint, lead poisoning can be caused by brass faucets, particularly in homes built prior to 1986. In 1986 a law was passed to largely ban the use of lead in plumbing material. But prior to this ban, homes were very likely to have lead pipes and fixtures. The law allows plumbing that contains up to 8 percent of the harmful metal to be labeled lead free, most commonly in brass or chrome-plated faucets and fixtures. So, although something may be labeled lead free, it may indeed contain lead.
Lead Contaminated Toys
Walmart and Target have been named in product liability and personal injury lawsuits alleging the companies sold children’s toys contaminated with lead. The toys in question tested up to 10-times higher than federal safety limits for children’s toys.
The contaminated toys, the “Cra-Z-Jewelz” jewelry-making kits, violate safety laws regulating children’s toys and other consumer products sold in the U.S.
Lead is extremely toxic and has been linked to numerous adverse health conditions, particularly when children are exposed to the substance. Children are at a higher risk of lead poisoning because exposure can damage nerve and brain development and long-term health. The younger the child, the more harmful lead is for healthy development.
Contaminated toys have been recalled in recent years due to lead levels exceeding safety limits. Product liability lawsuits have been filed against companies selling contaminated toys.
Symptoms of Lead Paint Poisoning
In order to prevent possible serious consequences of lead paint poisoning, it is critical to recognize the signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children as early as possible. Though it is not always easy, there are well recognized signs of lead poisoning. There are two types of lead poisoning: chronic and acute
Chronic Lead Paint Poisoning Exposure
The most common cases of lead paint poisoning are chronic, when tiny amounts of lead accumulate in the organism gradually over the significant period of time. Such cases are difficult to recognize, as the symptoms develop gradually and become vivid only after making significant harm to a child’s health. Common signs of chronic lead poisoning are:
- Aggressive behavior and irritability
- Hyperactivity, impulsiveness
- Problems with sleeping, persistent fatigue
- Loss of developmental skills in children
- Gastrointestinal problems, including constipation, abdominal pain, etc.
- Low appetite and energy
- Reduced level of sensation
Acute Lead Paint Poisoning Exposure
Acute lead paint poisoning is less common develops in response to the exposure to a single high dose of lead. In this case, the symptoms of lead poisoning are as follows:
- Pain, muscle weakness, and tingling or pricking in the skin
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Gastrointestinal problems: nausea, constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weight loss
- Anemia and hemoglobin in the urine
- Neurological problems: poor coordination, seizures, paralysis, coma
Lower Income Toxic Exposure
Children from low-income families are eight times more likely to suffer lead paint poisoning. According to data gathered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, roughly 24 million housing units in the U.S.A. have lead paint used in them and also contain high levels of lead-contaminated dust.
Of those 24 million homes, it is believed that over 4 million of them are home to at least one child. Low-income families often live in older, less expensive housing units, (often pre-1978) thus increasing their risk of being exposed to lead based paint.
Lead Paint History in the United States
In the 1800s, lead became a popular paint ingredient because of its durability, pigmentation, its ability to act as a drying agent, and its resistance to mildew.
- 1887 – US medical authorities diagnose childhood lead poisoning
- 1904 – Child lead poisoning linked to lead-based paints
- 1909 – France, Belgium and Austria ban white-lead interior paint
- 1914 – Pediatric lead-paint poisoning death from eating crib paint is described
- 1921 – National Lead Company admits lead is a poison
- 1922 – League of Nations bans white-lead interior paint; US declines to adopt
- 1943 – Report concludes eating lead paint chips causes physical and neurological disorders, behavior, learning and intelligence problems in children
- 1971 – Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act passed
- 1978 – Lead based paints were banned for use in housing due to its high toxicity.
Ohio Lead Paint Poisoning
Cincinnati Apartment Complex Paying Fines and Remodeling as a Result of Five Children’s Lead Reactions
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brought a lawsuit against Meyer Management, Inc. in Cincinnati for their negligent caring of lead within their rental properties. The suit arose after it was revealed that five children who lived in Meyer Management properties were experiencing lead poisoning.
The company must pay $350,000 in clean-up costs, as well as $7,500 in civil penalties. Furthermore, the company is being forced by the city to reveal to tenants the lead-based paint contents in their rental home before they are bond by lease.
Low-Level environmental lead exposure and children’s intellectual function: an international pooled analysis
“Abstract: Lead is a confirmed neurotoxin, but questions remain about lead-associated intellectual deficits at blood lead levels < 10 μg/dL and whether lower exposures are, for a given change in exposure, associated with greater deficits.
The objective of this study was to examine the association of intelligence test scores and blood lead concentration, especially for children who had maximal measured blood lead levels < 10 μg/dL. We examined data collected from 1,333 children who participated in seven international population-based longitudinal cohort studies, followed from birth or infancy until 5–10 years of age. The full-scale IQ score was the primary outcome measure.”
Read entire study
NTP Monograph on Health Effects of Low-Level Lead Evaluation
“Abstract: Although reductions in lead (Pb) exposure for the U.S. population have resulted in lower blood Pb levels over time, epidemiological studies continue to provide evidence of health effects at lower and lower blood Pb levels. Low-level Pb was selected for evaluation by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) because of (1) the availability of a large number of epidemiological studies of Pb, (2) a nomination by the National Insti- tute for Occupational Safety and Health for an assess- ment of Pb at lower levels of exposure, and (3) public concern for effects of Pb in children and adults.
This evaluation summarizes the evidence in humans and presents conclusions on health effects in children and adults associated with low-level Pb exposure as indi- cated by less than 10 micrograms of Pb per deciliter of blood (<10 μg/dL).”
Read entire article
Early Exposure to Lead and Neuropsychological Outcome in Adolescents
“Abstract: One hundred and ninety-five participants in the Cincinnati Lead Study were neuropsychologically evaluated in mid-adolescence. The neuropsychological measures yielded five factors labeled Memory, Learning/IQ, Attention, Visuoconstruction, and Fine-Motor. Prenatal, Average Childhood, and 78 month blood lead (PbB) levels were used in a series of multiple regression analyses.”
Link to PubMed page
Decreased Brain Volume in Adults with Childhood Lead Exposure
“Abstract/Conclusion: Childhood lead exposure is associated with region-specific reductions in adult gray matter volume. Affected regions include the portions of the prefrontal cortex and ACC responsible for executive functions, mood regulation, and decision-making. These neuroanatomical findings were more pronounced for males, suggesting that lead-related atrophic changes have a disparate impact across sexes.
This analysis suggests that adverse cognitive and behavioral outcomes may be related to lead’s effect on brain development producing persistent alterations in structure. Using a simple model, we found that blood lead concentration mediates brain volume and fine motor function.”
Read entire study
Altered Myelination and axonal integrity in Adults with Childhood Lead Exposure: A Diffusion Tensor Imaging Study
“Abstract: Childhood lead exposure is associated with adverse cognitive, neurobehavioral and motor outcomes, suggesting altered brain structure and function. The purpose of this work was to assess the long-term impact of childhood lead exposure on white matter integrity in young adults.
We hypothesized that childhood lead exposure would alter adult white matter architecture via deficits in axonal integrity and myelin organization. Adults (22.9 ± 1.5 years, range 20.0 to 26.1 years) from the Cincinnati Lead Study were recruited to undergo a study employing diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).”
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Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy in Adults with Childhood Lead Exposure
“Abstract/Results/Conclusions: Mean childhood blood lead levels were associated with regionally specific brain metabolite concentrations adjusted for age at imaging and Full-Scale intelligence quotient.
Adjusted analyses estimated for a unit (micrograms per deciliter) increase in mean childhood blood lead concentrations, a decrease of NAA and Cr concentration levels in the basal ganglia, a decrease of NAA and a decrease of Cho concentration levels in the cerebellar hemisphere, a decrease of GLX concentration levels in vermis, a decrease of Cho and a decrease of GLX concentration levels in parietal white matter, and a decrease of Cho concentration levels in frontal white matter.
Gray-matter NAA reductions associated with increasing childhood blood lead levels suggest that sustained childhood lead exposure produces an irreversible pattern of neuronal dysfunction, whereas associated white-matter choline declines indicate a permanent alteration to myelin architecture.”
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Association of Prenatal and Childhood Blood Lead Concentrations with Criminal Arrests in Early Adulthood
“Abstract/Conclusion: Childhood lead exposure is a purported risk factor for antisocial behavior, but prior studies either relied on indirect measures of exposure or did not follow participants into adulthood to examine the relationship between lead exposure and criminal activity in young adults.
The objective of this study was to determine if prenatal and childhood blood lead concentrations are associated with arrests for criminal offenses. Prenatal and postnatal blood lead concentrations are associated with higher rates of total arrests and/or arrests for offenses involving violence. This is the first prospective study to demonstrate an association between developmental exposure to lead and adult criminal behavior.”
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The Influence of Age of Lead Exposure on Adult Gray Matter Volume
“Abstract: Childhood lead exposure is associated with decreased cognitive abilities and executive functioning localized within the prefrontal cortex. Several studies have observed stronger associations between blood lead measurements obtained later in life than earlier measures, but there are no imaging studies investigating the developmental trajectory of blood lead levels taken during childhood on adult gray matter volume. In this study, we recruited 157 adults (20.8 ± 1.5 years of age) from the Cincinnati Lead Study to undergo high-resolution volumetric magnetic resonance imaging.
Adjusted voxel-wise regression analyses were performed for associations between adult gray matter volume loss and yearly mean blood lead levels from one to six years of age in the entire cohort and by sex. We observed significant inverse associations between gray matter volume loss and annual mean blood lead levels from three to six years of age.”
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Helpful Resources for Lead Paint Poisoning
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site. Lead. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/. Accessed on January 17, 2010.
- Medline Plus web site. Lead levels-blood. Available at:http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003360.htm. Accessed on January 17, 2010.
- Medline Plus web site. Lead poisoning. Available at:http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002473.htm. Accessed on January 17, 2010.
- Wikipedia. Lead poisoning. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_poisoning#Complications. Accessed on January 17, 2010.
- Mayo Clinic web site. Lead poisoning.
- WebMD website. Lead Poisoning-Symptoms. Available at: http://children.webmd.com/tc/lead-poisoning-symptoms. Accessed on January 17, 2010.
- Department of Ecology. State of Washington. Blood Lead Level Testing.