RI Kids Win Lead Paint Poisoning Settlement

An award has been granted in a lawsuit that was in negotiations for the past year concerning <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/lead_paint_poisoning">lead poisoning claims, reports The Associated Press (AP). Under the settlement, 18 children will receive compensation from their former landlords, said the AP.

The children were affected by exposure to lead-contaminated paint, which led to a variety of adverse health issues including problems with “behavior, speech, concentration, memory, and motor functions,” said the AP, which added that lead poisoning was experienced by all 18 while they lived in homes located in Providence, Pawtucket, Cranston and Woonsocket. All of the homes were contaminated with deteriorating lead paint and all the children—now ages nine to 17—were exposed to the lead prior to age six, added the AP.

“Although we wish all of these cases had been prevented in the first place, we’re very pleased to see that these children have been granted an important victory through the legal system,” said Roberta Hazen Aaronson, executive director for the Childhood Lead Action Project, quoted the Pawtucket Times. Funds will likely not be received by the children until they are at least 18 years of age and can be used for education or lost wages as a result of “severe cognitive impairment,” said the Pawtucket Times.

As part of the settlement, the court assigned a guardian to each child and, depending on need, funds could be released either at one time or over the course of time, noted the Pawtucket Times, with expenses and attorney fees included in the settlement. The Pawtucket Times cited sources that note that parents are able to pursue similar actions prior to their children turning 21 years of age.

We have long been writing about the dangers of lead exposure on the general population and, most especially to children. Lead poisoning is considered the greatest environmental health threat to children under the age of six, a very serious issue given that these children face the greatest risks since their growing bodies absorb lead easier than adult bodies.

A known neurotoxin, lead exposure can cause brain and nervous system damage in children and fetuses, behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Of particular concern is the developing brain because negative influences can have long-lasting effects and can continue well into puberty and beyond. Lead is known to cause cancer and reproductive harm and, in adults, can damage the nervous system. In high doses, lead poisoning can cause seizure, coma, and death. Once poisoned by lead, no organ system is immune; experts agree that there is no safe level of lead.

Of concern is that items, including children’s toys, keep turning up in the market with lead levels in excess of federally mandated lead standards. In 2008, nearly 80 percent of all product recalls in the United States involved imports from China, including a wide array of toys in violation with lead paint standards.

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