Knowledge of the dangers of lead poisoning has been around at least since ancient Rome.
Unfortunately, a convenient form of historical amnesia about lead poisoning has been far too common in the years since Rome fell. Addressing New York City lead paint poisoning cases therefore starts with restating what the risks of lead exposure really are – especially for children.
In older homes and apartments, many New York children are exposed to lead in the form of lead-based paint and other materials.
This is a problem in other areas of the country as well. In fact, about 250,000 children in the U.S. who are between one and five years old are thought to have more than 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood in their systems.
The federal Centers for Disease Control recommends remedial public health action when lead levels in the blood reach 10 micrograms.
Lead poisoning is harmful to virtually every system in the human body. Because the symptoms are often insidious, it can sometimes go unrecognized. But eventually lead poisoning can result in learning disabilities and serious health problems.
Indeed, at its most acute, high levels of lead poisoning can cause someone to suffer seizures, a coma or even death.
Because of these severe risks, lead has been banned in the U.S. for use in household paint since 1978. In New York, the ban has been in effect for even longer.
Yet many landlords have failed to take the action they should to remedy the problem of old lead-based paint still on the premises.
If you suspect your child has been exposed to lead through eating paint chips or inhaling lead paint dust or any other way, there are steps you should take immediately.
Have your child’s blood tested. Many city schools do that but not routinely.
If there is a positive finding of elevated lead in your child’s blood, then you should contact the appropriate agency in your area to do an investigation in your home.
Then if they make findings, they will cite the landlord and give them a reasonable time to abate or remove the lead. If they don’t abate, move. Nothing is more important than your child’s well being.