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Symptoms in adults may include headache, mood disorders, memory loss or other decrease in mental function. Abdominal pain, muscle weakness, and pain, numbness or tingling in the fingers or toes may also indicate lead poisoning. Men may experience abnormal sperm or a reduced sperm count, while pregnant women are at risk for miscarriage or premature birth. High blood pressure could be an indication of abnormal levels of lead in the blood.
Among children, physical symptoms can include weight loss, sluggishness or fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting or constipation. Also be on the lookout for changes in personality such as irritability, loss of appetite, or learning difficulties. Slowed growth or learning difficulties in newborns may also be a sign of lead poisoning or some other birth defect.
Dangerous amounts of lead poisoning build up and accumulate in the body over time after prolonged exposure. If you believe you or your child has been exposed to lead in the home, see your doctor. A simple blood test can detect the presence and level of lead in the blood. If there is some level of lead in the blood, ask your doctor whether treatment is required or how often you should monitor your blood lead levels. You should next take immediate steps to identify the sources of lead in your environment and deal with them appropriately.
Home test kits are available, although more accurate and reliable testing can be performed by a certified inspector or risk assessor. Contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD or visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website for more information.
Older homes are more likely to contain lead-based paint or pipes made of lead, which can contaminate drinking water. Even copper pipes in older homes may be soldered with lead, which can contaminate the water. Other objects in the home, from children’s toys to canned goods to mini-blinds may also contain lead solder or lead paint. While lead is banned in these products in the U.S., foreign-made goods may still contain dangerous levels of lead. These products can be tested for lead the same as your paint or water can. More information on products containing lead can be found at the Food and Drug Administration or the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Do not try to remove the paint yourself unless you are sure you know what you are doing. Chipping away or sanding away the old paint can release lead dust into the air and contaminate the whole environment. If the old paint is already cracking or chipping, carefully sweep away any particles with a damp cloth and paint over the surface with several coats of new paint, applying fresh coats anytime you notice the paint peeling. Ingesting lead-based paint chips is a common source of lead poisoning in children. Depending upon the circumstances, it may be necessary to hire a certified lead-based paint professional to do the job. As a homeowner, you should know the laws regarding disclosure of lead paint before renting, leasing or selling your home.
New York’s lead paint hazard reduction law requires certain property owners to remediate lead paint hazards. If your landlord is not taking proper steps to make your apartment safe, contact New York City Lead Poisoning Attorney Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for a free consultation regarding the steps you can take to enforce compliance with the law.