Many parents believe that lead and the harmful effects of it are a thing of the past. But the reality is that children may still be exposed to lead from various sources. As a result, it could be putting your child’s health in serious jeopardy. Below is an overview of child lead poisoning and exposure in children.
Is your child hanging around lead and at risk of exposure?
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, there are about 50 to 60 cases of lead poisoning in children diagnosed each year in the state.
Lead poisoning occurs when it enters a child’s body after exposure. Rarely is it absorbed through the skin. Most often it’s through the mouth or from breathing it in. Younger children are at a greater risk for two reasons. One, they are prone to put things in their mouth. Two, brain development is more rapid so it could be absorbed more quickly and easily into them.
In the late 1970s, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned lead paint in many products like:
- playground equipment; and
Today it’s oftentimes used in the automobile and electronic industry. If a parent works at a job that exposes him or her to lead, lead dust can collect on the parent’s clothing and the child may become exposed at home.
Some other products that still contain lead include:
- industrial paint;
- jewelry; and
Despite a ban on lead paint in toys, some manufacturers (particularly foreign manufacturers) sometimes use it.
How do I know if my child has lead poisoning?
It’s difficult to detect because some children show no signs of it. Also, lead poisoning doesn’t have common symptoms. Those who become ill may have symptoms that mimic the flu or a cold such as headache, abdominal pain, and nausea/vomiting.
Other signs that children may exhibit include:
- trouble concentrating;
- loss of appetite/weight loss; and
A blood test is the only way to know for certain if a child has lead poisoning. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommend children from low-income families undergo regular lead screenings. For more specific recommendation, see Colorado’s Lead Screening Recommendations.
What are some of the health problems associated with lead poisoning and are they treatable?
Even low levels of lead could be dangerous when exposed over a period of time, particularly with brain development. Higher levels of lead can be harmful to the nervous system and kidneys. In severe cases it could trigger convulsions, unconsciousness, or even death.
Lead poisoning can also lead to:
- learning disabilities;
- decreased bone/muscle growth;
- behavioral problems;
- speech problems;
- mental retardation;
- stunted growth;
- hearing impairment; and
- impaired intelligence.
Treatment for small amounts of lead exposure entails reducing exposure, as the body eliminates the lead in stages. With higher exposure, treatment requires medication. A second treatment is sometimes necessary with significant levels of lead.
Can I take legal action if lead exposure harmed my child?
In some cases it’s possible to file a claim against a property owner (like a daycare) whose premises contain lead. Parents may take legal action against other parties (toy manufacturers, etc.) if they were negligent in exposing a child to lead.
An attorney would need to investigate each situation to determine if there is a case and who would be liable. Call D.J. Banovitz at 303-300-5060 to set up a consultation with a lawyer.