New York State Governor Hochul signed a bill into law on August 17, 2022, requiring lead exposure screening as part of routine medical visits for children who are between the ages of six months and six years old.
Dr. Vicki Iannotti, a Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons’ professor of pediatrics, states that lead poisoning can occur at low levels of exposure. Therefore, it is important to assess the risk of lead exposure in your home, school, and work environment. Lead poisoning can occur through eating, drinking, touching, or breathing in the lead.
Research shows that no amount of lead exposure is safe for children. Additionally, lead accumulates in children’s bodies more easily. Children absorb a greater percentage of lead through their gastrointestinal tract and are more likely to be iron-deficient, which increases the absorption rate of lead.
Lead is particularly dangerous for children under the age of 6, as it can cause brain damage. Even low levels of lead in the bloodstream can lead to negative health consequences, including delayed puberty, lower IQ, as well as attention, behavior, and learning problems.
What is Lead?
Lead is a metal that occurs naturally and has been used in several applications, such as paint, plumbing materials, gasoline, batteries, ceramics, and cosmetics. However, lead can be toxic to both humans and animals.
To reduce lead exposure federal and state laws have been implemented to decrease the amount of lead in the air, water, food, products, homes, and offices. However, many homes and apartments constructed before 1978, when lead-based paint was banned for residential use in the United States, still have lead paint. Cracking or peeling lead paint is a significant source of lead exposure for American children.
Lead is still used in some other countries in paint, cookware, toys and herbal remedies. Children who have recently migrated to New York from these countries are in a high-risk group.
What is Lead Poisoning?
Lead poisoning is a condition that occurs when lead accumulates in the body, causing harm to various organs and systems. This can occur through the ingestion, inhalation, or absorption of lead particles. Lead poisoning is a serious health issue, especially in children, as lead exposure can lead to delayed development, behavioral and learning problems, and brain damage. Symptoms of lead poisoning can include stomach pain, headaches, irritability, fatigue, and constipation, among others. If left untreated, lead poisoning can cause long-term damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and reproductive system, among other organs.
Why is Lead Especially Harmful to Small Children?
Lead is especially harmful to children for several reasons.
Firstly, compared to adults, children absorb a higher percentage of lead through their gastrointestinal tract, and their bodies are more likely to be iron-deficient, which also increases the absorption rate of lead.
Secondly, lead accumulates in the bloodstream more easily in children’s bodies. Children also have developing nervous systems, and lead exposure can cause brain damage, which can lead to developmental delays and learning difficulties.
Thirdly, children spend more time on the ground and tend to put things in their mouths, putting them at a higher risk of ingesting lead particles, especially if there is lead-based paint in their environment.
Lead exposure has long-lasting and severe health consequences for children, making it especially important to prevent lead exposure and promptly treat lead poisoning in children.
How to Know if Your Child Has Lead Poisoning
The symptoms of lead poisoning can vary, and some children may not show any symptoms at all. However, some signs and symptoms that may indicate lead poisoning in a child include:
- Developmental delays or learning difficulties
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Irritability or behavioral problems
- Abdominal pain, constipation, or vomiting
- Headaches or seizures
- Hearing loss or speech difficulties
If you suspect that your child has been exposed to lead or may have lead poisoning, it is important to speak to a healthcare provider. A blood test can be conducted to measure the child’s lead levels and determine if treatment is necessary.
What to Expect When Dakota’s Law Goes Into Effect
Lead screening aims to identify children with high lead levels, allowing for the implementation of measures to reduce lead exposure and prevent cognitive and behavioral problems.
In New York, before Dakota’s Law, children’s blood lead level was only measured at ages 12 and 24 months. However, with the implementation of Dakota’s Law, children between 6 months and 6 years old are now required to undergo an annual screening questionnaire to assess their lead risk. If the child is deemed to have a high risk of lead exposure, a blood test is conducted to measure their lead levels.
CONTACT PARKER WAICHMAN LLP FOR A FREE CASE REVIEW
Parker Waichman LLP helps families recover financial compensation for harm caused by lead poisoning. If you or a loved one has been harmed by lead and you suspect the lead exposure is due to someone else’s negligence, Parker Waichman LLP is here to help. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to helping victims recover compensation for their injuries and damages. Call us today at our toll-free number, 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529), to learn about your legal options. The time to file your claim is limited by state law, so please do not wait to seek legal justice for your damages.
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