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Lead Paint Poisoning
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Albany Mom Suing Over Lead Paint

Jul 17, 2003 | The Record A city woman who claims lead poisoning caused her 14-year-old daughter to suffer brain damage has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Albany County and several landlords.

Albany resident Shana McCann claims her daughter, Sha-Nique, was poisoned over a two-year period beginning in 1993 and now she's taking the matter to state Supreme Court.

McCann accuses landlords of a Sherman Street apartment of "negligence" in renting apartments containing lead hazards, which are believed to cause brain damage if ingested.

Her attorneys are also blaming Albany County for "improperly" inspecting the apartments, allowing "improper" abatements and "incorrectly" certifying the homes as "lead safe."

It's all part of a $10 million lawsuit against four Albany landlords who own 10 properties in which at least 20 children were poisoned by lead.

McCann's lawyers also say two of the landlords, Sunanda Sanghi and her husband, Ajay, owned properties where significantly high lead hazards were found on at least 29 separate occasions between 1988 and 1997.

Officials from County Executive Michael Breslin's office could not comment on matters of litigation, but did say the county has always been diligent in performing whatever is mandated
by the state Health Department.

Jim Plastiras, spokesman for the county executive's office, also admitted the county has lost lead poisoning cases and made settlements in the past.

Court documents filed state ShaNique was born a "healthy baby in 1991. For the first 18 months of her life she had normal development and blood tests.

The document suggests that the situation changed after she moved to 25 Sherman St., where the county had found high lead hazards on four occasions.

While living in the third-floor apartment in 1993, Sha-Nique's blood level was tested and found to be up to 60 micrograms per deciliter, according to the lawsuit.

Those levels are 600 percent greater than the level recognized by the federal Centers for Disease Control. Sha-Nique was then admitted to St. Peter's Hospital for treatment.

A few weeks ago, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., joined Albany leaders in asking for more federal funding to combat irreversible health threats related to lead poisoning.

He talked about the disturbing finding of a new study that determined one in five Capital District children living in older housing stock may be at risk of lead poisoning and brain damage.

Schumer called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) nationwide $40 million budget earmarked for lead poisoning to increase to about $500 million to better address the problem.

Of those funds, Schumer would like to see more money flow into the Capital District to assist health departments with their own detection and prevention programs.

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