Medical professionals in the United State have altered their definition of what constitutes lead poisoning. This reclassification is to greatly raise how many children are considered to have concerning levels of lead in their body. More specifically, the more rigid standard introduced by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has led to the number of children between the ages of 1 to 5 with high lead levels in the blood rising to approximately 500,000 from less than half that number.
Some medical experts believe that this change in reclassification was long overdue. Nine years ago, the CDC revised its definition and promised to consider making an update at least every few years. This change had been pending for years. Medical professionals during the Obama administration had argued in favor of lowering the standard, but during the Trump administration, CDC workers failed to obtain the necessary sign offs from the White House Office of Management and Budget to lower the standard. CDC workers, however, have commented that the Biden administration is more supportive of this change.
Common Causes of Lead Poisoning
Even small amounts of lead that enters a person’s bloodstream can cause serious health complications. After lead enters a person’s bloodstream, the body stores lead in the organs, tissues, bones, and even teeth. Some of the most common ways in which lead poisoning occurs include the following:
- Canned goods. Some canned goods that are imported from other countries feature lead, which can be used to seal the can.
- Some types of eye makeup brands have been determined to contain lead.
- Household dust. In homes that once had lead paint, lead might be carried in the dust. Other times, soil containing lead can be brought into a house and then dispersed throughout the house as dust.
- Lead-based paint. The primary cause of lead-poisoning is paint, even though the federal government has outlawed the use of lead in homes in the late 1970s. Despite federal regulations, lead paint can still be found in many older homes.
- Paint sets. Some paints contain lead, which is why it is important to read the label before purchasing.
- Glasses as well as paint used on pottery as well as porcelain sometimes contain lead.
- Portions of lead-based paint or other objects containing lead can end up in the soil and remain there.
- Lead paint was used on holder toys. Additionally, some countries continue to use lead paint on toys.
- Water pipes. Some older homes have lead pipes. Other times, brass or copper plumbing in homes has been welded over with lead. Sometimes, even if a home is new, lead might still be part of the pipes if the pipes are old.
The Amount of Lead Required to Harm People
Data shows that children can absorb as much as five times the amount of lead as adults who are exposed to the same source. At high degrees, lead can result in organ damages and even cause seizure. When lower levels of lead are involved, children can still end up facing devastating consequences including harm to brain development which can lead to cognitive difficulties. As a result, pediatricians commonly say that no acceptable or safe level of lead exists to which a child can be exposed.
The Role of Public Health Officials
When children are discovered to have increased blood levels, public workers in the field of health and safety have a duty to locate the source and then take steps to clean up or remedy the element that is dispersing lead. While many hoped that the change in how lead poisoning is viewed in the country would also result in additional fundings being channeled to public workers for reducing lead exposure risks, it has not.
How Lead Poisoning is Assessed in the United States
Lead poisoning is assessed by measuring the micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. Toward the end of the 1970s, U.S. children up to the age of 5 were considered to have an average blood lead level if the amount was 15 micrograms per deciliter. More recent studies have found that from 2011 to 2016, this level was .83 micograms. The decrease in blood levels among kids in the country was linked to laws that discontinued the use of lead in gasoline and paint. While overall lead levels declined, however, medical researchers discovered that even small portions of lead in a child’s bloodstream can cause difficulties with intellectual development. In 1991, the standard for lead exposure in children was set to 10 micrograms per deciliter. In 2012, this amount was lowered to five micrograms. The most recent classification was set to three and a half micrograms.
Lead exposure constitutes a problem wherever it occurs, but research shows that lead exposure is a bigger problem in poor communities. The most troublesome cases involving lead exposure also occur in cities in the Northeast and Midwest, where the buildings are older.
Difficulties With the Change in Standard
The change in lead poisoning standards were challenged by the recent recall of a test kit. Earlier in 2021, Magellan Diagnostics recalled some kits for testing blood lead levels after these kits were determined to be showing falsely low blood lead levels. Earlier in October 2021, the CDC informed medical providers that the recall was expanded to include most testing kits that were distributed in the last year. Healthcare workers have stated that other blood testing kits have stayed available besides those manufactured by Magellan, but that other obstacles existed. For example, many lead screening programs were paused in 2020 because staff and resources were shifted to better deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact a Compassionate Long Island Lead Poisoning Attorney
If your child has undergone lead poisoning and another party is responsible, it is important to remember that you have rights as a victim. One of the best steps that you can take in such a situation is to obtain the assistance of an experienced Long Island lead poisoning accident attorney. Contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP today to schedule a free case evaluation.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900