Lead poisoning, especially lead poisoning of young children, is a serious problem in the District of Columbia and throughout the country. By far, the main cause of lead poisoning in children is old, hazardous lead paint in the apartments or houses where children live. Children are most vulnerable between the ages of one and three years old. Children who are being lead poisoned often have no symptoms; they look and act like any other children, and show no signs that they are being lead poisoned. Very small amounts of lead paint chips, flakes and dust can cause serious lead paint poisoning injuries. The only way to find out if your child is being lead poisoned is to have him or her tested. Every child in the District of Columbia should be tested for lead poisoning at least once between the ages of one and three.
Lead poisoning in very, very small amounts can cause brain damage in children. Through normal hand-to-mouth activity and breathing lead paint dust, lead gets into the child’s blood stream and is carried to the brain where it interferes with the normal development of the child’s brain. Scientific studies have shown that lead poisoning lowers a child’s IQ, causes serious attention deficits, hyperactivity, learning disabilities and what psychologists call executive functioning deficits, the child’s ability to organize and use complex information. Many lead poisoned children end up in special education, perform poorly and drop out of school.
Lead paint was banned for use in residential housing and in consumer products in 1973 by the District of Columbia and in 1978 by the United States Government. But children living in houses or apartment buildings built before 1978, and especially those built before 1950, are still at high risk for lead poisoning. This is especially true in poorly maintained, lower income rental housing and the older the residence, the greater the risk. If you live in such a home or apartment, make sure you immediately have your landlord fix and repair any chipping, peeling or deteriorating paint. Wash your child’s hands and toys often, and keep the areas where your child plays free from dust. MOST IMPORTANT, HAVE YOUR CHILD TESTED FOR LEAD POISONING!
Since 1983 the District of Columbia Housing Code has required landlords to provide homes and apartments without any hazardous lead paint when a child under the age of eight lives or spends substantial time there, on average more than ten hours per week. However, many landlords ignore this law. As a result, children continue to be lead poisoned and brain damaged by old, deteriorating hazardous lead paint in the District of Columbia.
If your child has been lead poisoned, you may be able to bring a lawsuit on behalf of you and your child for compensation for his or her lead paint poisoning injuries. Over the last fifteen years, I have represented many children in the District of Columbia in such lawsuits. I have recovered well over $15 million dollars for lead poisoned children. In April 2000, in a jury trial in D.C. Superior Court, I obtained a verdict of $1.6 million on behalf of a twelve year old boy who had been lead poisoned in the apartment where he lived. It is by far the largest lead poisoning verdict in the history of the District of Columbia, and one of the largest in the country. If your child has been lead poisoned, or is being lead poisoned, please call me for a free consultation to discuss your rights and what can be done to stop your child’s lead poisoning.
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Law Office of Daniel S. Kozma
2120 L. Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037