For nearly 100 years, pediatricians and child welfare workers have studied and documented cases of childhood lead poisoning. These cases occur wherever young children, usually six and under, live and play in environments contaminated by flaking and peeling lead based paint. This is a huge public health problem, especially in old urban centers such as Buffalo, the City of Tonawanda, and Niagara Falls, where most homes were built before 1978 when lead paint was used on interior and exterior surfaces. Although lead paint is no longer in use, it presents a serious hazard when newer layers of paint peel or flake.
As any parent knows, toddlers and even children in kindergarten and beyond will play on the floor, often near windows or doors, where the action of constant opening and closing causes old lead paint to be exposed and to become available for swallowing. Even a house with intact painted surfaces that is safe today may present a hazard a year from now, especially in high traffic areas. And, when a child places her hands or toys in her mouth, one chip of heavily leaded paint can enter the child’s digestive system and cause the child to suffer both the immediate and long term effects of lead poisoning. Lead paint chips are sweet and children will suck on the chips and swallow them. At the age of two or three or even six, this relatively small amount of lead can cause serious poisoning, at times requiring hospitalization.
What is the solution? And who is responsible for finding a solution? Our courts have recently emphasized the landlord’s responsibility, especially when he is aware that children are living in his rental units and he has the right to enter and make repairs. Flaking and peeling paint should be removed carefully so as not to cause lead dust to spread throughout the living area, and surfaces should then be sealed with lead-free coatings. Although landlords and homeowners may not be able to make their homes lead-free, they can make them safe for children.
If your child is found to have a lead reading in his or her bloodstream of 20 or higher, please call Lipsitz & Ponterio, LLC to discuss your potential legal rights. In an effort to spread the word about lead poisoning and what can be done to stop the conditions that cause it, Lipsitz & Ponterio, LLC has and will continue to use newspapers and television to advertise our services. We believe this is a responsible use of lawyer advertising since it brings to vulnerable people a message that help is available. Many families have lived for years with children severely disabled as a result of lead poisoning and they can and should take steps to hold irresponsible landlords accountable.