Great advances have been made in reducing lead exposure during the past 20 years. Lead is no longer present in gasoline, new supplies of house paint, or cans used for food or beverages. Lead also has been reduced in industrial emissions, drinking water, hazardous waste and consumer goods. As a result, there has been a decline of more than 80 percent in children's blood lead levels since the mid 1970s. However, certain environmental factors may still put people at risk.
Children are at especially high risk of lead exposure because they tend to put their hands and objects in their mouths, and their growing bodies readily absorb lead. Lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease affecting young children today. Click here to read the Florida Department of Health's
The Mayo Clinic defines lead poisoning as having a blood lead levels (BLLs) greater than or equal to 10 µg/dL, yet the vast majority of cases remain undiagnosed and untreated because low BLLs are not typically associated with overt symptoms. However, a BLL as low as 10 µg/dL can adversely affect intelligence, learning, behavior, and development. Symptoms of lead poisoning include:
- Decreased muscle and bone growth
- Hearing damage
- Learning disabilities
- Nervous system and kidney damage
- Muscle weakness
- Speech, language and behavior problems
- Brain damage
At extremely high levels (45 µg/dL or higher), lead poisoning can cause seizures, coma, and even death in children. Although a simple blood test can prevent permanent damage, nearly 250, 000 children in the United States are estimated to have elevated BLLs.
Lead-based paint remains a primary source of lead exposure for children. Despite the ban on lead in residential paint in 1978, extensive use of leaded paint prior to 1978 means that many homes, especially those built prior to 1950, still pose a danger to children. Exposure to lead generally occurs by ingestion of paint chips and/or inhalation of dust particles from deteriorating lead-based paint surfaces. Given that many of these older structures are all but crumbling, contact with lead is a virtual certainty. In homes undergoing renovations or repairs, children can easily come into contact with extremely high levels of lead through exposure to dust created during sanding and demolition.
In Miami-Dade County, the percentage of pre-1978 housing according to the 2000 US Census Bureau census ranges from 9.7% to 15.2%, making it the most at-risk county for lead exposure in both South and Central Florida.
Although individuals from all walks of life can be affected by lead poisoning, children in low income families are at significantly higher risk for two reasons. First, children from low income families are more likely to suffer from poor nutrition. Diets deficient in calcium, iron, protein and/or zinc increase the absorption of lead and increase the vulnerability to the adverse effects of lead. Second, children from low income families are more likely to reside in older and deteriorated homes with flaking lead paint and lead-contaminated dust, two of the leading sources of lead exposure.
Other sources of lead exposure include:
- Lead-contaminated soil, especially soil near busy roadways or factories where lead-rich gasoline has settled into the soil.
- Lead dust carried home on items such as clothes and shoes of individuals whose jobs or leisure pursuits involve lead. e.g. battery manufacturing, radiator repair, construction, renovation, soldering, recycling, painting, demolition, scrap metal recycling, working with stained glass, pottery making, and target shooting.
- Lead from ceramic glazes.
- Imported food and drink cans sealed with lead solder.
- Some imported home remedies and cosmetics often imported from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, India, the Dominican Republic, or Mexico. The remedies are usually bright yellow or orange in color. Examples include: Alarcon, Alkohl, Azarcon, Bali goli, Bint al zahab, Coral, Greta,
- Farouk, Ghasard, Kandu, Kohl, Liga, Litargirio, Lozeena, Pay-loo-ah, Sindoor, and Surmam among others.
- Some imported ethnic foods.
- Some jewelry.
- Toys and other consumer products. For a list of these products, please refer to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website.
- Artificial athletic fields whose turf is made of nylon and polyethylene fibers.
If you feel your child may have been exposed to lead, even if he/she is not exhibiting symptoms of lead poisoning, ask your child's doctor about a lead screening.Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada, P.A. is a products liability/tort litigation law firm skilled at handling lead exposure lawsuits. Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada, P.A. handle cases all over the country. If your child or someone you know has suffered as a result of exposure to lead, contact us today at 1-877-448-8585 for a free and confidential consultation or fill out our online form. We are available to assist you 24/7. Se habla español/Nou parlé Creole.