Lead is a toxic metal that has been widely used in gasoline, construction, mining, manufacturing, and consumer products. Lead runoff from industrial sites has contaminated water supplies, and its use in gasoline created considerable air pollution. Since the 1970s, government regulation, consumer lawsuits, and public awareness campaigns have drastically reduced the risk of lead poisoning. However, knowing where lead can be found may help eliminate its risk to you and your family altogether.
Sources of Contamination
The most prominent sources of lead are in the home. Lead was widely used in paint up until 1978 when lead paint in households was banned. Homes dating from before this time may still contain lead paint. Lead was also commonly used in constructing household plumbing and pipes. This may potentially contaminate a home's drinking water. Many older consumer products and children's toys also contain lead.
Lead can lie hidden in and around a home. Over the years, lead can seep off paint into the soil or turn to dust and coat everyday household items. Clothing, furniture, blankets, and curtains can contain lead in significant enough amounts to pose a health risk. Homegrown flowers and vegetables can also become contaminated.
Air, Water, and Industrial Pollution
You may encounter lead in other places. Because of lead's use in gasoline, mining, and manufacturing, environmental contamination can be a problem in some areas. Some aviation fuels and metal processing facilities can create significant lead pollution in the air. Runoff from mines and factories can contaminate local water supplies and soil. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund, a program for cleaning up hazardous waste sites, lists lead contamination as a major environmental concern.
Children under the age of seven are most vulnerable to lead poisoning. They also suffer the most from lead's harmful health effects. Placing objects containing lead in the mouth or swallowing them can lead to anemia, stomachaches, muscle weakness, and brain damage. High lead blood levels can cause children to develop physical, mental, and neurological problems. Lead poisoning has been linked to lower cognitive abilities, lower IQ, reduced academic performance, hearing problems, and an increased rate of attention and behavioral disorders.
Adults can suffer significant if less severe effects from lead poisoning. Food, water, worksites, and consumer products can contain significant amounts of lead. Adults can suffer from high blood pressure, nerve disorders, muscle pain, and organ problems. High lead blood levels pose a special risk to pregnant women. Families trying to have children or expecting children should be aware of potential sources of lead around the home and in their lives.
Treatments for lead poisoning are limited. Preventative measures are often the best response. Removing sources of contamination should resolve less serious cases of lead poisoning. Children and adults can undergo lead blood testing to ensure the absence of a contaminant or to monitor their health. More serious cases of lead poisoning may require significant treatment options. The standard treatment for heavy metal poisoning is Chelation therapy.
Regulations and Lawsuits
Strong regulatory efforts have drastically reduced lead poisoning in recent decades. In the late 1970s, around 88% of U.S. children had significant lead blood levels. This rate was reduced to less than 1% by 2012. Today, federal and state governments tightly regulate the use of lead in water supplies and the atmosphere.
Lawsuits have also played a part in reducing the amount of lead in the environment. People suffering from lead poisoning have brought product liability lawsuits against paint manufacturers and construction companies. These lawsuits can recover compensation for people suffering from health problems after being exposed to lead. They have also raised awareness about the dangers of lead and prompted companies to remove dangerous products from the market.
Found Lead in Your House? Discuss Your Legal Options with an Attorney
While lead is no longer used in paints sold in the United States, there may still be traces of lead in and around your home or in older paint. If you, or a loved one, were injured and you believe lead was the culprit, you may want to file a legal claim. To learn more about your potential claim, talk to a products liability attorney near you today.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.