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Time for Fresh Coat of Paint: Lead a Problem for New York Children

In 2010, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled at least 22 products containing lead. From over 200,000 cloth books to 252,000 toy jewelry sets, many of these products were designed for children’s use.

Because lead is especially harmful to children, precautions must be taken to limit lead exposure. The state of New York has taken proactive measures by collaborating with statewide groups and passing public health laws and regulations to help combat lead poisoning.

Lead is Especially Harmful to Children

Lead is a poisonous metal that occurs naturally in the ground. For many years it was used in paint, plumbing, gasoline and other items. Lead paint was banned in homes in 1978, but many structures built before then still have dangerous lead paint on their walls and windowsills.

Children and adults can get lead poisoning by swallowing or breathing in lead. Children are especially likely to inhale lead dust and swallow lead paint because they often put their hands, toys, and other things like peeling paint chips in their mouths.

Children have a greater risk of harm from lead poisoning because their brains are still developing. Lead can impair a child’s growth and ability to learn, and it also can affect a child’s behavior, even if only small amounts of lead are ingested.

According to the New York State Department of Health, children under six years old are more likely than any other age group to get lead poisoning. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported that 2,644 New York City residents between the ages of six months and six years old were found to have dangerous levels of lead in their blood in 2005.

New York’s Plans to Address the Lead Poisoning Epidemic

Because lead poisoning is such a large problem in New York, state officials and legislators are working together to address lead poisoning issues.

Last year, New York Governor David A. Paterson established the Governor’s Task Force on the Prevention of Childhood Lead Poisoning to help eradicate the problems of childhood lead poisoning. With a total of $15.6 million in funding, the Task Force has plans to collaborate with specific statewide groups and provide specific recommendations to reduce children’s exposure to lead. The Task Force will collaborate with several state agencies including the New York Department of Health, as well as environmental advocacy groups such as the children’s welfare and healthcare, to create solutions to the lead problem.

Also, the state legislature has passed laws to combat New York’s lead poisoning problem. New York State Public Health Law states that “no person shall manufacture, sell or hold for sale a children’s toy or children’s furniture” with lead paint. The law also prohibits the sale of consumer products containing more than seven parts per million (ppm) of lead or more than one-half ppm of cadmium, another hazardous metal.

In addition, representatives of the Department of Health may order owners of “areas of high risk” where conditions are conducive to lead poisoning to rectify the dangerous conditions. Owners who do not improve hazardous conditions on their properties face penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation.

Children who experience lead poisoning generally do not look or feel ill. For this reason, New York requires health care providers to test all children for dangerous amounts of lead through a blood test at ages one and two years old.

If you think your child has been exposed to lead, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area. An attorney experienced in handling lead paint cases can help your child get the care he or she needs and discuss any legal claims you may have.

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