Lead discovered in NYC Housing Authority buildings

Lead pipes and lead paint in NYC housing plumbing

“Even though the New York City Housing Authority has been under a microscope for flouting lead-paint safety regulations for years, the exact number of children residing in NYCHA public housing poisoned by lead was never disclosed. Over the weekend, the city department of health offered a number: It said that 820 children younger than 6 were found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood between 2012 and 2016. The children tested positive for lead levels of 5 to 9 micrograms per deciliter, the minimum amount for which the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that localities intervene” (New York Times).


Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

Initially, lead poisoning is not easy to detect — even public housing residents who seem healthy can have high blood levels of lead. This is because most symptoms won’t present themselves in a way that become concerning or indicate possible lead poisoning until they have already reached dangerous levels and until damage has already started to occur. Additionally, many of the early sings and even signs of sever lead poisoning are often confused for other less serious conditions and so diagnosis is missed and the issue gets even worse. Here are the most common symptoms of lead poisoning seen in children, infants, and adults:


Lead poisoning symptoms in children

Signs and symptoms of lead poisoning in children include:

  • Developmental delays in things such as speaking, walking, and cognitive growth
  • Learning difficulties and troubles with memory and recall at home or school
  • Irritability, moodiness, temper tantrums, outburst, paranoia, and aggression
  • Loss of appetite, inability to eat, loss of interest in favorite foods
  • Weight loss that cannot be explained by other factors or illnesses
  • Sluggishness and fatigue, no energy, sleeping a lot, seeming to be in a daze
  • Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, constipation, other stomach issues
  • Hearing loss not indicated by injury or trauma or other cause
  • Seizures and other neurological disorders and conditions
  • Pica- the act of eating things that are not food- wood, paint, rocks, etc

There are other symptoms too that may indicate an issue with possible lead exposure so be sure to discuss any symptoms that concern you with your child’s health care provider right away.


Lead poisoning symptoms in newborns

Babies who were exposed to high levels of lead before birth might:

  • Be born prematurely- before their due date anywhere to a weeks to months early
  • Have lower birth weight than what is normal and safe for a newborn
  • Have slowed growth and be born with deformities and other problems

It can be hard to catch pre-delivery exposure in pregnant women because their bodes are going through so many drastic changes that some of the early indications for lead poisoning could be passed off as morning sickness and pregnancy related symptoms. This is why it is important to keep all appointments with your OBGYN because they will do blood tests throughout your trimesters to ensure you and your baby are safe and healthy.


Lead poisoning symptoms in adults

Although children and unborn babies are the ones who are at the greatest risk, lead poisoning also happens in older adults and it can be dangerous for adults as well. Signs and symptoms of lead exposure and poisoning in adults can include the following:

  • High blood pressure, especially if it does not respond to normal treatments
  • Joint and muscle pain that intensifies despite treatments and therapies
  • Difficulties mental focus, memory, recall, and cognitive decline
  • Headaches that get worse and intensify rather than improve
  • Abdominal pain, gas and bloating, ulcers, bloody stools, and constipation
  • Mood disorders, aggression, bi-polar behaviors, motional outbursts
  • Reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm in men and loss of fertility in women
  • Miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature birth in women who are pregnant


Risk factors

Not everyone who is exposed to lead once or twice will end up with lead poisoning, It usually takes little doses over a period of years or massive doses over a few times of exposure to develop lead poisoning. However, there are some things that can make someone more prone to poisoning than others. Factors that may increase your risk of lead poisoning include:

  • Infants and young children are the most likely to be poisoned. Children under the age of 5 are deemed the most at risk because they are more likely to chew on things with lead paint and their bodes do not fight off foreign bodies as easily or as quickly. They are also the most at risk for symptoms as their developing bodes can be severely damaged by lead poisoning.
  • Living in an older home. Although using lead-based paints has been banned since the 1970s, there are many ways people can still be exposed. Older homes and buildings may have many of the original components of its construction. People renovating older buildings are at risk as well from the lead being inhaled as particles that get kicked into the air during the renovations.
  • Certain hobbies. In some cases, your hobbies and day to day fun activities may put you at risk for lead poisoning. Making stained glass and some jewelry requires the use of lead solder. Some welders and engineers may also be exposed to lead based materials during their day to day work. Refinishing old furniture can expose layers of lead paint as can working with old junk yard metals.
  • Living in developing countries. Developing countries do not have the safety restrictions and protocols that we do here in the United States. American families who adopt a child from another country are encouraged to test the child for lead poisoning. The same is true for immigrant children who are coming into the country with their families as well.


Checking for Lead Poisoning

Many doctors do not think to test for lead poisoning right away when adult present certain symptoms as many are similar to symptoms seen in other common illnesses and diseases. A simple blood test is all that is needed to see if your blood contains high levels of lead, so if you have concerns about it for yourself or your family, request the blood tests at your next doctor’s visit. If you feel you or your family has been exposed to lead in the NYC Housing Authority, you may be eligible for compensation. Please contact an experienced injury attorney today.