Lead poisoning is a serious illness that causes severe neurological damage in children, affecting their development, and impacting their ability to read, write, concentrate and think abstractly.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), estimates that over 4 million U.S. households with children are vulnerable to unsafe levels of lead. Approximately 500,000 U.S. Children between the ages of one and five have unsafe levels of lead in their blood, and are therefore at risk for a wide range of symptoms and illnesses.

According to the CDC, lead paint is the predominant cause of childhood lead poisoning in the United States. When lead paint chips or peels, the tiny chips and dust come off onto children’s hands, and any hand-to-mouth behavior typical of young children can lead to lead poison. Children can also breathe in tiny amounts of lead if they come into contact with a dusty, lead-containing object or product.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of lead-based paint in residential housing in 1978, but did not require the removal of lead-based paint from surfaces that were already coated with this dangerous toxin. 

But unfortunately, today about 3 million tons of leaded paint remain in over 50 million occupied private housing units that were built prior to 1980.

When a child is poisoned by lead, outward physical signs of poisoning are not immediately apparent. Yet even the smallest amount of lead can cause permanent brain and neurological damage. 

Some of the signs and symptoms associated with lead poisoning in children include:

  • Learning difficulties and developmental delays
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Sluggishness/fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Hearing loss
  • Slowed growth
  • Impairment of visual-motor function
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Reading under-achievement
  • Impaired reaction time
  • Loss of auditory memory

Lead poisoning can also affect organs other than the brain. Lead blocks the absorption of calcium, thus interfering with memory storage. It also attacks the peripheral nervous system, which can cause a decrease in muscle strength. Additionally, lead accumulates in the kidneys, and can interfere with proper kidney function. The liver, spleen, and immune system are also susceptible to lead accumulation and subsequent impairment of their function.

Only blood tests can determine the amount of lead in a child’s system. Even though the CDC defines toxic blood levels of lead as 10 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) or more, harmful effects can occur at lower levels of lead as well.

Families have a legal right to safe and habitable housing, free from the possibility of childhood lead exposure, regardless of the liable parties. Our legal, medical, and environmental resources allow us to best represent our clients’ cases and fight for the fair compensation they deserve.

In 1992, Wilentz was the first law firm to establish a landlord’s duty to protect children from the harmful effects of lead in New Jersey. Since then, we have successfully pursued claims against many individuals and companies responsible for childhood lead poisoning. These entities include: 

  • Property managers 
  • Landlords/Property owners (on an individual and corporate basis) 
  • Court-appointed rent receivers 
  • Government entities 
  • Municipalities 

If you or a loved one has been exposed to lead and has experienced any of these symptoms or illnesses, you could be eligible to file a claim. Schedule a free consultation or phone a member of the Wilentz team today.