Recently, the national spotlight has been focused on lead levels in the public water systems in several cities, drawing attention to issues related to water procurement, treatment, and distribution in areas that have older plumbing. The problem has been confounded by the fact that many cities with an established footprint have pipes that predate the 1970s and therefore may contain lead or be lined with lead. As water continually rushes through these pipes, lead can leach into the water and contaminate it, making all water in a receiving household unsafe.
In 2016, it is surprising many people that lead poisoning is still a problem in the nation, and unfortunately, Chicago continues to experience many incidents of lead poisoning and contamination annually. According to the City of Chicago, approximately 1,000 of the city’s children are diagnosed with lead poisoning every year.
A recent study by the Chicago Tribune concluded that officials in Chicago are routinely testing the water quality in homes with the lowest risk for lead contamination, contrary to guidelines to test riskier homes. According to the Tribune, the majority of testing that occurred last year happened on the city’s northwest and southwest side which correlates to geographic areas with low incidents of lead poisoning.
This has led many to questions whether the water they have in their homes is actually safe, particularly if homes near them are not being tested. Unfortunately, lead contamination often cannot be detected by an average citizen and the impact of lead poisoning may be difficult to identify. However, presently, no level of lead is considered to be safe in a child’s bloodstream as even very low levels have been correlated with decreased IQ and other developmental challenges. As a result, it may take months or even years for a child who is exposed to lead to fully show the effects of that toxicity which will last for the remainder of that child’s life.
As no real treatment exists for lead poisoning, it is critically important to reduce and eliminate the avenues by which lead gets introduced into our daily lives and the lives of our youngest generations. Though much focus has been placed on lead water levels lately, lead paint and other lead sources in older buildings continues to be a threat in Chicago.
What can concerned parents do? First, you can take matters into your own hands by having your household water and/or painted surfaces tested. Typically, newer homes do not present the same dangers for lead paint that older homes do but lead water contamination can affect everyone. Put simply, if lead leaches into a water supply in one location, that water can then contaminate an entire system as it runs through pipes that connect houses to distribution hubs, other buildings, and sewers. If you have lead contamination in your home, take all necessary steps to address and eliminate the exposure so that you and your family are as safe as possible. If you suspect that you or your child may have come into contact with lead, seek medical attention as a physician can diagnose whether or not lead poisoning has happened. An early diagnosis can help you avoid additional exposure to the source of lead and can limit any harm done to you.
Finally, know that if you are the victim of lead poisoning in Illinois or if your child was injured by lead, you may be entitled to seek payment for your damages, including any medical expenses you incur and any lifelong challenges that may be in your child’s future.
If you have questions about your legal rights, know that the personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. offer a case consultation without cost or obligation to all victims who contact us toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-757. For your convenience, we have a licensed lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with you and everything discussed will be kept confidential. If we represent you in your case, we will never charge you a fee unless we make a recovery on your behalf and we will advance all case-related expenses.
Our legal team has experience helping victims of lead poisoning, and if your life was affected by lead, we want to help you as well.
Prior Blog Entry:
Crane Accidents Cause Injuries in Chicago, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published April 7, 2016.
Lead Poisoning Prevention, City of Chicago.
Chicago often tests water for lead in homes where risk is low, by Michael Hawthorne and Jennifer Smith Richards, Chicago Tribune, published February 26, 2016.
Holes in Lead-Contamination Data Explored, by Britain Eakin, Courthouse News Service, published April 6, 2016.