Litigation as a result of exposure to lead is now taking a prominent role throughout the country. For many years, Federal, State and local governments have been attempting to limit the amount of human exposure to lead.
Lead is a toxic metal that damages nerve and brain cells. Increased levels of lead in children have been associated with slowed physical and mental growth, hyperactivity and increased school dropout rates.
Even though the hazards of lead exposure have been known for many centuries it was not until 1978 that the US government banned the use of lead-based paint in residential buildings. However, the vast amount of housing in this country is over 18 years old. It has been estimated that over 75% of the housing in America contains lead based paints. In some States there is a requirement that all lead based paint be removed.
Usually the cases that are brought involve children under six (6) years of age with a venous blood lead level of twenty-five (25) ug/dcl (micrograms per deciliter of whole blood) or greater. The cases may be brought against the property owner whose apartment or house contained the lead paint, the manufacturers, the suppliers, contractors and even employers when adults are exposed at work.
Lead exposure causes damage to many parts of the human body including the nervous system, circulatory and blood forming system, reproductive system, kidneys, and gastrointestinal systems. In adults lead poisoning can cause many symptoms including fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach disorders, forgetfulness, headaches, insomnia, irritability, hypertension, anemia, reduced desire for sex, impotence, dizziness and weakness in the extremities.
Children who are exposed to lead suffer even more serious conditions since the brain has not completely developed. Lead exposure can result in learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, lowered IQ, and anti-social behavior. Elevated levels of lead over a period of time can damage the nervous system of children and hurt their development.
If lead exposure is suspected you should contact your family physician and undergo a blood test. Many hardware stores sell inexpensive tests that allow consumers to determine whether or not a section of paint, a room, or a soil sample contains lead.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a National Lead Information Clearinghouse at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323). Information is also available at the EPA's website at http:www.epa.gov/lead/.