JAMESTOWN, NY – A news report posted on erienewsnow.com, a mother in Jamestown, whose child has been left with lasting effects from lead poisoning, is calling for responsibility from the city’s contaminated housing providers.
Jade Shirey, a mother whose 3-year-old son now endures numerous mental and physical impairments due to lead paint exposure at their Jamestown residence, is speaking out.
“His verbal and cognitive abilities are delayed,” Shirey described. “He cannot speak, so there is no communication regarding his needs, wants, or desires. This results in frequent tantrums, meltdowns, and difficulty taking him to public places, as he often screams and yells. Even getting him dressed and fed in the morning is a challenge since he cannot express what he wants.”
On Monday, the mother urged Jamestown lawmakers to tackle the issue she sees as entirely preventable.
“There is no reason for lead to still be present in homes in this city,” Shirey asserted. “I understand it’s an expensive fix, but we’re spending money either way. We can either be proactive and remove lead from homes, or we can spend it reactively.”
Shirey’s proposed solution is to hold landlords responsible, similar to health inspections for local businesses.
“The county can inspect a restaurant, right?” Shirey elaborated. “You choose to enter a restaurant and order food, and the county can conduct inspections at any time, issue violations, shut them down, and close their doors so they can no longer profit from harming human lives.”
The poisoning has had a profound effect on her son’s life.
“Although there’s always hope for progress in any situation,” Shirey said, “according to the CDC, the behavioral and cognitive consequences of lead exposure are believed to be irreversible. So, while we hope to communicate with him somehow, there’s no guarantee he will ever improve beyond his current state.”
Jamestown’s Director of Development, Crystal Surdyk, agrees with holding landlords accountable but notes that there is presently no ordinance to enforce it; however, one is being developed.
How do children suffer lead poisoning?
Children can suffer lead poisoning through various routes of exposure, with the most common being the ingestion of lead-contaminated substances.
Here are some ways children can be exposed to lead:
- Lead-based paint: In older homes built before 1978, lead-based paint was widely used. As the paint ages, it can chip, peel, or create lead-containing dust. Children may accidentally ingest lead dust or paint chips through normal hand-to-mouth activity or by chewing on surfaces coated with lead-based paint.
- Contaminated soil: Lead particles from lead-based paint, industrial emissions, or past use of leaded gasoline can contaminate the soil. Children playing in contaminated soil may inadvertently ingest lead particles through hand-to-mouth contact.
- Drinking water: Lead can leach into drinking water from old plumbing systems containing lead pipes, fixtures, or solder. When children drink this contaminated water, they can be exposed to lead.
- Imported toys or products: Some imported toys, jewelry, or other products may contain lead, especially if they are painted or made from cheap materials. Children can be exposed to lead if they chew or mouth these items.
- Traditional remedies or cosmetics: Some traditional remedies, such as certain herbal medicines or folk treatments, and traditional cosmetics, like Kohl or Surma, may contain lead. Children can be exposed to lead if they ingest these products or if they are applied to their skin.
- Occupational or hobby-related exposure: Parents or caregivers who work with lead in their occupation (e.g., construction, battery manufacturing, painting) or hobbies (e.g., stained glass, pottery glazing, or shooting ranges) may inadvertently bring lead dust home on their clothes, shoes, or tools, exposing children to lead.
Lead poisoning is particularly dangerous for children because their developing brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the toxic effects of lead. Even low levels of lead exposure can cause serious health issues in children, such as learning disabilities, behavioral problems, cognitive impairment, and stunted growth.
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