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Lead Poisoning

In California, lead poisoning is the number one environmental factor impacting children today. While the California state congress has established certain regulations protecting children from lead poisoning, such as the California Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, children are still being exposed to lead on a regular basis. Unfortunately, children are not the only demographic susceptible to lead poisoning. Adults can suffer from lead poisoning, as well, and a major cause of lead poisoning in adults is a landlord or home inspector’s failure to ensure that a home is free from lead particles in the walls and pipes. If you have fallen prey to lead poisoning, contact an experienced lead poisoning attorney at Willoughby Brod today to learn about your options for recovery.

Federal, State, and Local Laws Regarding Lead Poisoning

Lead-based paint in homes was not outlawed until 1978, so many homes and condominiums built before 1978 still have lead-based paint inside. As a homeowner or renter, you have the right to know about the presence of lead-based paint in your home. Under federal law, you must receive the following from the seller or landlord prior to entering into a contract to purchase or rent a home:

  • A “Protect Your Family” pamphlet that explains how to identify and control lead-based hazards in your home;
  • Any knowledge the seller or landlord has regarding the presence of lead-based paint or other lead-based hazards inside the home. If the building is a condominium, apartment building, or other multi-unit home, and the seller or landlord is aware of the presence of lead-based paint in the common areas or other parts of the building, he or she must disclose that information, as well;
  • A “Lead Warning Statement” disclosure, either inserted into the contract or attached to the contract, stating that the seller or landlord has complied with all lead-related notification requirements. A sample disclosure statement can be found here; and
  • For buyers only, a 10-day inspection period during which buyers have the opportunity to inspect the home for lead-based paint hazards. The buyer and seller can mutually agree on a longer or shorter length of time, or the buyer can waive this right altogether.

In addition to following the federal laws regarding lead-based paint hazards highlighted above, California also has its own set of lead disclosure laws designed to protect you and your family. For example, in California, a simple statement that the landlord or seller is unaware of any environmental hazards inside the home is not enough. Rather, if the homeowner or seller is unaware of any hazards, it is their duty to find out and notify the prospective buyer or renter. You can find a complete guide to useful California regulations to know about when buying or renting a home by clicking here.

In San Francisco, landlords and sellers must assume that all buildings built before 1978 contain lead, and it is illegal for landlords and sellers to allow lead-based hazards to exist in the home. Thus, it is the responsibility of the landlord and seller to inspect the home for lead-based hazards and hire USEPA-certified lead removal experts to remove the lead. Furthermore, if you have children under the age of six living with you, the San Francisco Department is Public Health Childhood Lead Prevention Program will inspect your property for lead on an annual basis to ensure you and your child are living in a safe environment. If lead is detected, it is the responsibility of the property owner to remove the lead promptly. If you live in a pre-1978 building and notice chipped paint on the interior or exterior of your building or dust created by window and door frames rubbing against the wall, contact a San Francisco lead poisoning attorney immediately to learn about your rights.

Causes of Lead Poisoning

Lead can be found in paint, water pipes, soil, dust, and a variety of household supplies. In fact, lead is a naturally occurring metal that occurs in the earth around us. However, human behavior has made lead more prominent in our daily lives and more dangerous, as well. Oftentimes, landlords and other people you trust to take care of your home can neglect to check for lead in the walls and pipes and leave you in a home where you are at high risk of lead poisoning. Remember, if you have suffered from lead poisoning as the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. Do not wait to contact an experienced lead poisoning attorney at Willoughby Brod immediately so we can start working on your case and fighting for your rights.

Below is a list of places lead can be found in both adults’ and children’s daily lives:

  • Wall paint: Even though lead paint has been banned in the United States since 1978, some older houses that have not been renovated since 1978 may still have lead in the wall paint. As the paint chips off the walls, children can easily pick up the chipped paint and put it in their mouths, transferring the lead from the walls to their bodies.
  • Water pipes: If you regularly drink out of the tap in an old house, you may be at greater risk for lead poisoning. Old lead pipes can release lead particles into the water, which result in lead poisoning when transferred into your body. Copper pipes soldered with lead and brass plumbing fixtures also have a tendency to leak lead particles into the water, so be sure to check your water pipes before drinking out of the tap at home.
  • Soil: Lead from soil around your house can easily get tracked into your house, end up on your children’s hands and eventually into their mouths.

Make sure to ask your landlord about all of the above places where lead is typically found in the home. If you own your home, make sure you hire professionals to inspect your home for lead and ask the seller before buying in the future whether traces of lead have been found anywhere in or around the house. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has issued regulations around lead standards in homes, and making sure your home is compliant with these standards can save a life.

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning can be difficult to detect, especially in newborns and young children. Unfortunately, children are most at risk for lead poisoning, so it is important to have your child regularly tested for lead poisoning and be alert to the following symptoms:

  • Developmental delays, including problems with speech, motor function, vision, or cognitive skills
  • Learning difficulties, including dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sluggishness and fatigue
  • Abdominal pain or constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Hearing loss
  • Seizures
  • Eating objects that are not food

Newborns who experienced lead poisoning while in the womb will usually exhibit the following symptoms at birth:

  • Premature birth
  • Lower birth weight
  • Slower growth

While lead poisoning is much more common in children than in adults, that does not mean adults are immune. The following symptoms can be seen in adults suffering from lead poisoning:

  • High blood pressure
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Difficulties with memory or concentration
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mood disorders
  • Reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm
  • Miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth in pregnant women
Effects of Lead Poisoning

Lead poisoning is sometimes called the silent killer because its symptoms are not always noticeable and its damage long lasting. One of the biggest concerns regarding how lead poisoning affects children is that it can slow down or stop brain development. If a child’s brain does not have a chance to fully develop during adolescence, that child may enter into adulthood and live the rest of his or her adult life with undeveloped motor functions, cognitive skills, speech and language skills, and emotional and social abilities. In more severe cases of lead poisoning in both children and adults, it can result in damage to the kidneys, nervous system, seizures, unconsciousness, and even death.

What to do if You or a Loved One Suffered From Lead Poisoning

If you, your child, or a loved one has suffered from lead poisoning, you may be eligible to obtain compensation for your injuries. Landlords and home inspectors alike may be responsible for the lead in your home, and in such cases they are also responsible for making your situation right again. The attorneys at Willoughby Brod are knowledgeable in California lead poisoning regulations and experienced in helping victims of lead poisoning in the bay area obtain full recoveries for their injuries. Contact us today at (800) 427-7020 or visit us online to schedule your confidential and free consultation.

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