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Lead-Poisoning of Children and Maryland's Lax Laws

In Baltimore and the surrounding areas, it has been estimated that over the last twenty years, at least 37,500 children have been poisoned due to lead exposure in their homes. Another study shows that even though numbers of exposure to lead poisoning has decreased since 2000, more than 56,000 children living in Baltimore still may be at risk for exposure. What compounds the fear factor associated with lead poisoning is the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recent statement that there is no level by which lead in the blood would be considered “safe”; in other words, any toxic exposure can lead to lead-poisoning, slow development, and possibly death.

Lead Poisoning’s Effect on Children and Newborns

Lead poisoning can be hard to detect until the blood has become infected with dangerous amounts of lead. In children and newborns, lead poisoning can lead to significant development and learning delays, as well as hearing loss, weight loss, fatigue, and abdominal pain and vomiting. In adults, lead poisoning can lead to additional issues of memory loss, pregnancy miscarriage or premature birth, mental functioning declines, pain or numbness in the limbs, among other symptoms. The presence of lead is attributed to the fact that before the 1970s, houses, furniture, and even children’s toys were painted with lead-based paints. In addition, lead pipes, copper pipes, and other brass plumbing fixtures used to be soldered with lead, which may lead to the release of lead particles into tap water consumed by the population.

Tenants Bring Suit Against Landlords for Lead Poisoning; Landlords Protect Themselves through Insurance Policies

Over the last couple of decades, tort law has seen an increase in the number of personal injury cases between tenants living in homes where the landlords did not take any mitigating steps to ensure that lead-paint was removed from the walls or the risk of lead exposure was otherwise tackled. Many landlords, instead of taking steps to reduce the risk of lead poisoning to its tenants, bought insurance against tenants’ claims in the event that tenants were poisoned and brought suit against the landlords. Overall, the price to be paid has been limited in the past.

Maryland’s Lax Laws on Lead Poisoning and the Responsibility of the Landlord

Baltimore itself in recent years has seen a significant drop (by almost 86%) in the number of new cases of lead poisoning since 2002. However, this does not mean lead poisoning is no longer occurring; many news sources believe that Maryland’s state laws and regulations are so lax that even if a law requires a landlord to take mitigative actions with an elaborate system charged with keeping records of these actions, there would be no guarantee that a follow up review would take place to ensure that the landlord is taking the mandated steps to lower the risk of lead poisoning.

Maryland law requires that before tenants move in, the property owner must remove any lead hazards, as well as fix any that crop up during the duration of the tenancy. Landlords are required, additionally, to provide a certificate to the tenants stating the premises are lead-safe. However, many tenants may not request any actions by the landlord or even report the landlord for not taking appropriate action because they fear the possibility of eviction as a form of retaliation. For many families, they cannot afford this type of retaliation.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

If your child was diagnosed with lead poisoning due to lead exposure at home or school, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.

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