Lead: The Equal Opportunity Toxin

By | May 29, 2007

  • What is Lead Poisoning?Lead poisoning, also known as saturnism, plumbism or painter’s colic, is caused by increased blood lead levels as a result of exposure to lead in the environment. Lead is a neurotoxic metallic element that can be absorbed by the body, usually through the lungs and stomach. When too much lead accumulates in the body, lead poisoning can occur. Generally, it happens slowly, resulting from the gradual accumulation of lead in bone and tissue after repeated exposure. Kids are especially vulnerable and are known to absorb 50% of a lead ingestion while adults absorb only 10%. Although lead is no longer used in paints, gasoline, water pipes and other products, some lead-based products still exist and may pose a health hazard. In addition, lead has staying power and much lead remains in the environment years after its initial use.
  • What are the dangers of Lead Poisoning?Left untreated, lead poisoning can damage many internal organs, including the kidneys, nervous system and brain. Because of the possibility of permanent impairment, lead poisoning is especially dangerous for infants and children younger than 7 years. The earlier that treatment is sought, the greater the possibility of reducing damage.
    A common misconception is that lead poisoning affects only the urban poor. While exposure risk is higher in deteriorating inner-city neighborhoods, this disease has been known to affect all socio-economic groups. Upper and middle-class children can become exposed to lead dust during renovations of older homes. Exposure to even low levels of lead can cause damage over time, especially in children.
    Complications resulting from lead poisoning differ in children and adults and should therefore be addressed separately. The primary known risks to children are: poor muscle coordination; learning disabilities; nervous system and kidney damage; decreased muscle and bone growth; speech, language and behavior problems; and hearing damage. The primary known risks to adults are: pregnancy complications, including miscarriage, preterm delivery and stillbirth; damage to sperm-producing organs in men; memory and concentration problems; high blood pressure; digestive problems; nerve disorders; muscle and joint pain; and cataracts.

  • Legal IssuesMillions upon millions have been affected by lead poisoning. Many suffer permanent injuries and require ongoing medical treatment. Lawsuits are often brought by lawyers on behalf of children who have sustained lead poisoning from lead paint. Fortunately, jurisdictions often have a very long statute of limitations for lawsuits filed by children, some lasting five, ten, or even twenty years. This means that even if a child sustained lead poisoning up to twenty years ago, the attorney representing him would still be able file a law suit against the landlord or builder.The liability resulting from lawsuits brought by the families of the men and women who have suffered deadly side effects from this terrible affliction is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • Your RightsIf you believe you’ve suffered health problems due to lead poisoning, you may be entitled to damages. To determine your rights, you should contact a personal injury attorney specializing in these types of cases. You can search the LawGuru Attorney Directory for a personal injury lawyer in your area. Or, if you have additional questions about lead poisoning and your situation, you can ask a free question of the LawGuru Attorney Network in our Knowledge Base.
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