Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin that can cause young children serious long-term health problems. Numerous studies have demonstrated a clear causal relationship between childhood lead poisoning and severe neurological, cognitive, behavioral and physiological deficits in children. Deteriorated lead-based paint on pre-1978 rental properties is the number one cause of lead poisoning. Landlords and owners of rental homes must know that rental properties with deteriorated lead-based paint are a serious health and safety threat to young children.
One of the worst effects of lead poisoning in children is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Children, especially those younger than six years old, are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning and resulting ADD and ADHD. ADD and ADHD are neurological disorders that impact a child’s ability to pay attention, follow instructions, focus on schoolwork and complete tasks. Children with ADHD have the added deficit of being unable to sit still, exhibit self-control or control impulsive behavior. ADD and ADHD can last forever. In fact, for 90% of children with ADD or ADHD, it lasts a lifetime. Medication can only suppress, but not cure, ADD or ADHD.
To diagnose ADD and ADHD, pediatricians, psychiatrists and neuropsychologists conduct extensive testing and look for certain negative behaviors in children including:
- Short attention span or inability to pay attention
- Careless mistakes while completing homework or other tasks
- Inability or failure to listen even when spoken to directly
- Trouble or inability to organize tasks and activities
- Avoidance or dislike of tasks that require concerted mental effort
- Easily distracted or forgetful
- Fidgeting, leaves seat, can’t sit still at home or in class
- Unable to read books alone or with a parent
- Cannot play quietly
- Inability to wait to be called on; blurts out answers to questions
Medical doctors and research scientists have known for decades that childhood lead poisoning can cause ADD and ADHD. Research dating back to the 1940’s demonstrated that children with lead poisoning exhibited symptoms consistent with ADD and ADHD. Medical experts initially believed that reducing a child’s blood lead level would allow full recovery without any lasting effects. Unfortunately, subsequent studies revealed that, even when blood lead levels are reduced, children can suffer permanent neurological harm from lead. The reason for that is that lead is stored in a child’s large bones and will continue to leach back into the blood stream, cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain causing damage for 10-20 years.
If your child has ADD or ADHD and you’re concerned that lead poisoning was the cause, stop and ask yourself the following questions:
∙ Did your child live in a rental home built prior to 1978? All homes and apartment buildings built prior to 1978 are presumed, as a matter of law, to contain lead-based paint.
∙ Was or is the paint at your pre-1978 rental home peeling, cracked, flaking or deteriorated? If lead-based paint cracks, flakes, peels or becomes deteriorated and exposed through weather, friction or impact (e.g., doors and windows opening and closing) it can produce lead dust that children can ingest simply by putting their fingers or a toy in their mouth. Unfortunately, even microscopic amounts of lead dust can poison a child. Lead-based paint is most commonly found on exterior and interior wood siding, door frames, windows, stairs, bannisters, cabinets, drawers and baseboards.
∙ Is my landlord responsible for maintaining the health and safety of my rental home or apartment? In most circumstances, yes! Regardless of the terms of your rental agreement, your landlord must follow certain “rules of the road” designed to keep your rental home or apartment safe and habitable. That includes knowing the dangers of lead-based paint and making sure that your child is not exposed to deteriorated lead-based paint or lead dust.
∙ Does your child have or did she have an elevated blood lead level? Your child’s pediatrician can check your child’s blood for lead through a simple skin prick or venous blood draw. You should also ask your child’s doctor for all prior blood tests and ask your doctor if your child has or ever had an elevated blood lead level. Depending on the facts, any blood lead level in excess of 2 mcg/dL can be dangerous to your child. Be careful, don’t let your child’s doctor tell you lead isn’t dangerous. Lead is extremely dangerous and medical science has proved again and again that blood lead levels as low as 2-3 mcg/dL can cause harm. As the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency has stated over and over, “there is no safe blood lead level.”
∙ Can the lawyers at Riley Ersoff help me and my child? Yes we can! Riley Ersoff has handled more childhood lead poisoning cases than any other law firm in California. We have recovered millions for families impacted by the scourge of childhood lead poisoning and have the ability to obtain the justice your family deserves. Call us. We can help.