I believe I suffered from acute lead poisoning as a near 17 year old in July of 2019 as a result of the negligence of the organizers of a Boy Scout Eagle Project. I brought up the matter at a doctor's appointment the following month, asking if a blood lead level test would be in order, but was assured it could not have occurred. However, I have reason to believe otherwise.
In July of 2019, I received an email notifying me of an upcoming Boy Scout Eagle Project that would entail scraping "old paint", without any mention of lead paint. Upon arrival, since I think the whole thing was a bit disorganized, I was not promptly given a mask and dry scraped lead paint for several minutes prior to being given one. It was an N95 but I was never instructed on how to fit it and looking back never bothered adjusting it to fit. Over the next hour, I dry scraped lead paint with a metal scraper, on occasion walking back a few feet, turning around, and briefly removing the mask for a breather. This may have contributed to the poisoning, but I was never given instructions beyond putting a mask on. I don't know the details of the precautions employed, but the paint did not look coated in any sort of lead sealer. Regardless, I at one point ventured a ways away to a wall others were not working at since the main one was crowded, and after some time was instructed to scrape a different one. I don't know if this one was not coated in a sealer while others were. Once the scraping was finished, I was provided drink on site, which I believe was quite dangerous given there was lead dust in the area and my face, hands, and clothes harbored lead dust. Shortly thereafter, I repainted the building without a mask on. I believe this was also dangerous given there was still dust in the area, on my face, on my arms, and on my clothing. I was not given any instructions on how to proceed thereafter, but doing some Googling on the car ride home, where I did not take any precautions to avoid touching my mouth or face, I found I should take a shower, which I did, and sequested my clothes away from others, which I also did.
The very next day, I believe I began experiencing the symptoms of acute lead poisoning, though at the time I was very much in denial that it could have occured. I became very tired, and had to go to bed at a time far earlier than normal, which I attributed to sleep deprivation. I also developed a headache, and at times my walking was so uncoordinated I walked into a wall at home. I attributed both to sleep deprivation. At some point during the next month, I developed severe stomach pain, but oddly did not make the connection to lead poisoning. In September, my grades in math especially suffered, with me, a usually B+ math student suddenly receiving a D and a low C on 2 tests in a row. I also noticed issues with reading and memory, though with extra work generally managed in classes. I also noticed personality changes, particularly an onset of depression. I currently suffer from schizophrenia, depression, OCD, and anxiety.
Looking at various guidelines as to how lead paint should be removed, I believe a lot was done incorrectly, and this directly led to my poisoning.
- Dry paint was scraped without people being given adequate protection (appropriate mask given late and not being instructed to adjust it, also many articles say full body sealed protection is necessary)
- People were not instructed to wash hands, arms, or body before being allowed to remove masks to then paint over the scraped walls
- I was not instructed to take any precautions whatsoever in the time after the scraping was complete, including to avoid touching the face or to take a shower immediately
As far as proof of the extent of poisoning, I have the following:
A picture taken in June 2015 and a picture taken in August 2015 that show drastic changes in facial architecture, suggesting major neuropathy of the face.
Videos of my gait, which is currently mildly ataxic, suggesting major cerebellar damage.
Speech samples from before and after the incident, which when analyzed with software reveal changes characteristic of dysarthria, also suggesting cerebellar involvement.
Though I was not given a neuropsychological evalation prior to the event, I scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT, 98% on the PSAT, and received an 800 on the Math SAT 2, all prior to the incident. This year, an evalation yielding the following results, which I believe are largely inconsistent with my prior performance:
"intellectual functioning is estimated to be in the high average range"
Attention: Auditory working memory was in the average range. Working memory for visual
spatial information was low average. Processing speed was very low average. Attention to
simple visual information was average. His ability to maintain freedom from distraction was
Language: Language functions including naming, repetition, and comprehension of simple
instructions were intact.
Visuoperceptual/Visualconstructional: His ability to copy a complex geometric design was
functional. Motor speed was low average. Visual scanning speed was low average. Spatial
perception was average.
Memory and New Learning: New learning and memory for verbal material was in the average
Executive Functions: Generally, his executive functioning tested in the average range with
some exceptions. His ability to respond to abstract visual spatial information without any social
component was in the superior range. Performance on executive functions that required
processing the ability to “think on his feet” and respond quickly to changing contextual
information tested in the impaired range. He had difficulty “shifting” his attention and problem
solving strategies effectively."
2 Answers from Attorneys
You may have a case but you should consult with a lawyer asap as you may have statute of limitations problems. Most personal injury lawyers like myself do not charge for initial consult and do not charge by the hour. You have nothing to lose but you should act quickly. In order to assess your claim you will need to state: a) when was your 18th birthday? b) where in IL did this exposure occur? c) has any doctor ever diagnosed lead poisoning in you?
It certainly sounds like these facts warrant an examination by a well-referred attorney. Unfortunately, a limitations period may already be in play since you appear to have become aware of the situation almost immediately and more than a couple years have passed. You did not post a location, but there are excellent attorneys throughout the state to whom you can be referred to review the facts, damages, and deadlines. With each day that passes, however, the deadline question becomes more critical.