Childhood lead poisoning is one of the most pervasive public health problems in the country, causing serious permanent personal injury and socioeconomic damage. It is also one of the most preventable—as simple as removing common sources of lead from a child’s home. Lead has been used in a variety of consumer goods throughout history, such as pipes, gasoline, and paint. However, as the dangers of lead poisoning became more apparent, Congress began restricting the use of lead in products. Lead paint was banned nationwide in 1978, and the EPA began phasing out the use of leaded gasoline in 1973. Though lead is no longer used in new consumer goods, lead-based paint continues to exist in many homes throughout the United States.

This is especially true in Los Angeles County, where some areas, such as San Marino, have over 80% of the homes built before the national lead paint ban. County-wide, the number is closer to 50%. Although older lead paint is often painted over, when a new layer deteriorates, chips, and flakes, it pulls the older lead-based paint layers with it. Those chips and flakes then fall to the floor, within reach of small children, who may accidentally ingest it. Once ingested, lead wreaks havoc on a child’s body, causing anemia, kidney damage, and developmental delays.

Even small amounts of lead in a young child can cause permanent cognitive harm, leading to learning disabilities, lower academic achievement, and reduced earning capacity when out of school. That is why the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommends local health departments intervene when a child has a blood lead level of 5 mcg/dL or greater. However, states like California have a much higher threshold of 10 mcg/dL before the health department will get involved and investigate the source of lead. Worse, California does not mandate blood-lead testing of children, so there is no way to know how prevalent childhood lead poisoning actually is in the state.

Of the children in Los Angeles aged six and under who were tested, more than 15,000 had elevated blood-lead levels between 2011 and 2015. Though lower income children are usually at higher risk, due to lower quality housing, children growing up in gentrifying neighborhoods are also often at risk. Though there are steps parents can take to help reduce exposure, such as meticulous cleaning, the ultimate responsibility lies with the landlord to ensure a home is lead safe for tenants with young children. No matter the condition of paint in the home, a home is not lead safe unless it underwent an EPA certified abatement process.

If your child has been exposed to chipping and peeling lead-based paint, have your child tested for an elevated blood lead level as soon as possible, and call the lead poisoning attorneys at Levy Konigsberg LLP to see if you have a case. Levy Konigsberg LLP has decades of experience helping victims of childhood lead poisoning get the compensation they deserve, and has won over $100 million in verdicts and settlements. Contact our lead poisoning attorneys today for a free case evaluation.

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