In the minds of most people today, lead exposure is a problem that has been addressed long ago and no longer an issue of concern. The Chicago lead poisoning attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers are making an effort to educate the public about the real and current dangers that still exist due to contamination in older buildings throughout the city. One of the most important ways to determine whether your family is at risk is to seek regular testing for exposure to determine whether you or your children have been in contact with dangerous amounts of lead.
Understanding When Lead Exposure Becomes Dangerous
Since the discovery of lead and its use in commercial, business and residential applications, our society has been subjected to increased exposure due to contamination through pipes, paint, jewelry and tainted soil. It was banned as a paint base in 1978 and removed from gasoline in the 1980s, but that doesn’t mean it was removed from our environment. Instead, it remains in our soil, pipes, water supply and the dust found in homes built prior to the lead based paint ban. Everyone alive today has come into contact with lead at some point, but we our bodies are only able to tolerate a certain level of exposure before it causes health complications.
Children are at the highest risk of harm because their bodies are not able to remove lead as effectively as grown bodies are. Five times the amount of lead ingested by children makes it into the blood compared to adults. To determine whether your child is at risk of exposure or currently being exposed to lead, our Chicago lead contamination lawyers recommend having a blood lead test conducted to determine whether the level of lead in their blood is at safe levels. Here are the most common recommendations for how to proceed after the test, according to leading health officials.
- If your child’s result falls below 5 mcg/dL, he or she is not at risk of health complications. The average test result is approximately 2 mcg/dL
- The Center for Disease Control recently amended its blood lead standard to 5 mcg/dL. This coincides with Chicago law; which requires an inspection of any property for lead contamination when a child has a test result above 5 mcg/dL. If the result is between 5-9, your doctor will want to retest your child in three to six month intervals.
- If the test result falls in the range of 10-14 mcg/dL, your doctor should demand monthly testing of your child and will advocate working with the health department to locate the source of the exposure. It is extremely important at this point to bring your child’s exposure down before long term health complications ensue.
- Results that fall between 15-44 mcg/dL reveal the need for ongoing treatment to reduce blood lead levels and the symptoms of internal damage caused by the lead exposure. Your doctor will review your child’s diet and examine factors that include his or her growth, development and cognitive function to determine whether the exposure has resulted in permanent damage. Your child may also require biweekly or monthly testing to ensure the levels are improving.
- If your child has a result of more than 45 mcg/dL, your doctor will order immediate emergency treatment for lead poisoning and your child will not be allowed to return to your home until the source of lead has been identified and removed. The health department will examine your home to help you fix the problems while your child remains at the hospital.
Adults can also exhibit symptoms of lead poisoning and if their blood lead levels are greater than 20 mcg/dL, they may begin to suffer long term damage to cognitive function. Any test result greater than 40 mcg/dL requires immediate medical treatment.
How to Reduce the Risk of Exposure
There are certain steps that you can take to reduce the impact of lead exposure in your home. By taking these steps, you will ensure that your family is able to avoid long term injuries, even if you live in an older home.
- Incorporate foods into your family’s diet that help the body reject or eliminate lead. Any food that contains calcium, iron or vitamin C will act as a first defense against the absorption of lead. Making these foods staples in your home will help— dairy products, green and leafy vegetables, beans, lean meat, peanut butter, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes and vitamin C rich juices.
- Reduce your risk to exposure by running tap water for a full minute before using it for cooking or washing. This will eliminate most of the lead in the water due to old piping and plumbing components. Keep in mind that boiling water does not remove its lead content, and will actually concentrate it.
- Don’t use dishes with lead based coating or paints. Crystal, pewter and ceramic are common sources of lead, so if you have old dishes, evaluate them to determine whether they contain lead.
- If you notice cracks or chips in your paint, contact your health department to learn how to repair it properly. During your repair, you may kick lead dust up into the air, making the situation even worse. The health department can help you make these repairs in the most effective and safe manner possible.
- Clean your environment and any surface your child comes into contact with regularly. This includes washing toys, stuffed animals and objects that come in close contact with the mouth and face on a routine basis. Encourage your children to wash their hands and faces before meals and bed time.
- Be wary of jewelry, old furniture and keys. If you would like to be alerted of product recalls due to lead content, you can sign up at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist for regular notifications.
Your Landlord’s Responsibility to Provide a Safe Environment
While it is not the duty of a property owner to inspect your home for lead contamination, it is his or her duty to respond to written requests to make repairs when lead is found in the home. It is also the duty of any property owner to educate and warn residents about the possibility of lead exposure if the building was constructed before 1978 or contains old plumbing that could increase the risk of contamination. To learn more about your legal rights, contact one of our qualified Chicago lead exposure lawyers.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has helped thousands of families recover the compensation they deserve when they’ve been injured due to the carelessness of other people. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation with one of our Chicago lead poisoning attorneys so that we can review your legal options and answer any questions you have. If we cannot collect compensation on your behalf, our services are free.