The most common way children get lead poisoning is from lead-based paint. New York City’s Comptroller, Scott Stringer, conducted an investigation into child lead exposure. He found that thousands of children across the five boroughs remain at risk of exposure to lead paint and its severe, irreversible health consequences.
Mr. Stringer’s report states that 9,671 buildings under the jurisdiction of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), housing 11,972 children, were not inspected by HPD lead inspectors. In fact, HPD failed to send lead inspectors to 503 buildings in which Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) data showed there were three or more children with lead blood levels at or above the 5 mg/dL action level prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Of the 11,972 lead-exposed children, 2,749 tested positive for lead exposure after another child in the same building had previously tested positive. DOHMH’s accumulated blood test data should have served as a clear warning that children were being exposed to lead paint, possibly in their own homes. This should have been sufficient to warrant HPD action, which could have prevented future instances of lead exposure among New York City children, as stated by the Comptroller.
Dangers of Lead Exposure for Children
No safe blood levels of lead have been identified for children. Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health, as reported by the CDC. It can cause:
- Damage to the brain and nervous system
- Slowed growth and development
- Learning and behavior problems
- Hearing and speech difficulties
Lead poisoning is most damaging, and also most common in very young children. The number-one source of lead poisoning is exposure to lead-based paint. As this paint begins to peel or chip and generate dust, it poses serious health risks, particularly in urban areas where housing is old. Even brief exposure can have serious consequences. Lead exposure often occurs with no obvious symptoms and may go undiagnosed unless a blood test is performed.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Children’s Exposure to Lead in New York City?
Lead paint has been outlawed in the U.S. since the 1970s, but at one time it was commonplace to use leaded paint in buildings. Older buildings may contain lead paint. Landlords are negligent when they fail to test for and remedy these dangerous conditions. Peeling, chipped, or cracked lead-painted surfaces can needlessly expose young children to a serious environmental hazard. In such cases, negligent property owners may be held liable for injuries caused by lead paint exposure.
Consult with a New York Personal Injury Lawyer
If your child has suffered lead exposure through landlord negligence, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced New York child injury attorney as soon as possible. You may have a premises liability claim for compensation against the landlord. Call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free consultation. We can tell you if you have a case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.