The United States is facing a childhood lead poisoning epidemic in many major cities across the country. The manmade catastrophe that is the Flint Water Crisis has only brought to light just how pervasive the problem is. Many cities, such as Oakland, California, have been found to have childhood lead poisoning rates greater than what was found in Flint and more than three times the national average. In Oakland alone, a recent study showed that 7.75 percent of children aged six years or younger had elevated blood lead levels. For comparison, 5 percent of children in Flint had elevated levels at the height of the crisis, and 2.5 percent of children have it nationwide.

These statistics are alarming, because even a small rise in a child’s blood lead level can cause permanent cognitive damage, reduce IQ, and undermine a child’s ability to reach their true potential. Lead, a heavy metal once used in everything from pipes to paint to gasoline, is a neurotoxin that is especially dangerous to young children. The growing bodies of children six and under absorb lead more quickly than adults do, and lead interrupts the development of their brain during critical stages when a child is building the foundation for skills essential for academic and professional success. A child who is lead poisoned is at a disadvantage both academically and professionally, and will often struggle in work and school just to achieve the bare minimum.

Unlike Flint, lead in Oakland is more commonly found in lead based paint in older housing than in the water. Lead based paint has been banned for residential use across the United States since 1978. However, poorly kept homes built before the ban often have old lead based paint behind layers of newer paint. When those new layers chip, peel, and fall to the floor, it takes the older lead based paint layer with it. These lead based paint chips are often within easy reach of toddlers and other small children, who may accidentally ingest the chips. Young children may also inhale lead based paint dust created by friction surfaces, such as window frames and door jambs.

There are an estimated 85,000 homes in Oakland built before the lead paint ban in 1978. Lead paint continues to exist in those homes that have not been abated. While lead abatement is not expensive, many owners of lower income housing do not want to spend the money to ensure that a home is lead safe for children. That is why childhood lead poisoning disproportionately affects lower income children, who then go on to struggle more than their peers in school and in work.

The lead poisoning attorneys at Levy Konigsberg LLP have decades of experience helping lead poisoned children get the compensation they need and deserve. If your child has been exposed to chipping and peeling lead based paint, our lead poisoning attorneys may be able to help. Contact us today for a free case consultation.

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