Lead Paint – Nervous System Injury
Written by Andrew Sarski on March 1, 2011
One of the most common causes of lead poisoning is exposure to toxic lead paint, which can lead to severe damage to the nervous system, and even death. Even though lead has been eliminated from paint products, most Americans still have levels of lead in their blood, and studies show that even small traces of lead in the blood of otherwise healthy children can result in major medical complications. While most people believe that lead paint exposure only affects children who actually eat the toxic paint chips, research has indicated that adults and children alike can suffer from catastrophic complications resulting from simply inhaling lead-contaminated dust which may be generated during repairs or renovations to homes or buildings constructed before 1978. Even improper removal of lead paint from a building can expose adults and children to toxic levels of lead, potentially resulting in damage to the nervous system and other devastating medical conditions.
Nervous System Injury Described
Damage to the nervous system can include any number of disorders affecting the spinal cord or brain, including brain damage, stroke, and spinal cord injury. Symptoms of injury to the nervous system include:
- Developmental delays
- Changes in movement or reflexes
- Lack of coordination
- Changes in mood or consciousness
- Muscle rigidity or seizures
- Slurred speech
Nervous system injuries are typically debilitating, long-term conditions because of the complexity of the nervous system’s function and its limited ability to repair itself following an injury.
Lead Paint and Nervous System Injury Connection
The use of lead paint was banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1977 when the toxic nature of the lead was definitively associated with irreversible cognitive and physical disability and even death. Although lead paint is no longer used in the construction of new buildings, the toxic substance may still be found in older homes and buildings built before the lead paint regulation was put in place. In fact, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimations, lead paint can be found in 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1978, 69% of homes built from 1940 to 1960, and 87% of homes built before 1940. Unfortunately, this means that adults and children across the country continue to be exposed to toxic lead paint on a daily basis, potentially leading to catastrophic medical complications.
The harmful nature of lead is due largely to the heavy metal’s ability to mimic the actions of calcium. Unfortunately, once lead enters the bloodstream, the body may mistake it for calcium and allow the substance to enter the cells of vital organs like the kidneys and brain. The lead proceeds to interfere with the enzymes these organs need in order to function properly, potentially leading to significant complications, including organ failure, brain damage and nervous system injury. Although exposure to lead paint can affect many aspects of a child’s body, the nervous system appears to be the most sensitive to lead poisoning, since the complex and critical system continues to grow and develop throughout childhood.
Because the presence of lead in the body so significantly inhibits the kidney’s ability to stimulate red blood cell production, the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity is severely limited, resulting in an inadequate amount of oxygen being delivered to vital organs like the brain. Lead also affects the function of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as gama-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is believed to play a role in the secretion of growth hormones, and is also involved in a wide variety of physiological functions in organs and tissues outside the brain. Exposure to lead while a child’s nervous system is developing can inhibit the growth of the brain and ultimately have permanent effects on the anatomy and the function of the brain and nervous system.
Lead Paint Poisoning Lawsuits
Victims of serious injury resulting from the use of a defective product are not at fault and may be entitled to reimbursement for their injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered from damage to the nervous system and you believe lead paint exposure to be the cause, contact a defective product attorney to discuss the benefits of filing a defective product lawsuit. Several lawsuits have already been filed by individuals who were exposed to toxic lead paint and subsequently developed major injuries. In some cases, adults and small children were exposed to toxic levels of lead paint for years in their own homes, even though property owners assured them the property was lead paint-free. The goal of defective product lawsuits is to seek financial compensation for injuries, the medical expenses resulting from injury treatment, and the pain and suffering incurred by victims and their families. With the help of a qualified defective product lawyer, victims of nervous system injury can collect the compensation they deserve.