Lead-based paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978. Nevertheless, it is still present in some buildings and houses built before then. Children under the age of 7 are at high risk for lead paint poisoning – ingestion of even a small amount of lead can lead to learning disabilities, brain damage, hyperactive behavior, antisocial behavior, coma, and even death.
The most common cause of lead poisoning is the ingestion of lead-based paint chips or paint dust that comes from deteriorating (chipping or peeling) lead-based paint in neglected buildings or homes. A blood test is the only way to find out if a child has too much lead in their bloodstream.
The law permits lawsuits to be brought against owners, landlords and managing agents of the residential apartment in which children live. These lawsuits are based upon the negligent failures of owners and agents to properly maintain apartments. Negligence suits can also be brought as a result of failure of the owners and agents to properly abate any lead-based paint problem in a particular apartment.
Such agencies as Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have gone after landlords in public and private housing for poor maintenance of buildings and non-disclosure. Landlords have specific duties under federal law for informing tenants about the risks of lead poisoning. Realtors also have an obligation to inform potential buyers of homes built before 1978.
If you live in a building built before 1978, and you suspect your child might have been exposed to lead paint, see your family doctor immediately, and contact an attorney if blood tests reveal lead.