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Environmental connections to public health >>

"Half the Size of His Fingernail"

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Associated Press reported that Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine testified in a court case over lead paint that swallowing a chip of lead paint just half the size of his (Landrigan's) fingernail could send a child into a coma or convulsions.

The heavy metal lead is a neurotoxin that can permanently damage the brains of developing children and lead to lower IQ and behavioral problems. Evidence of health problems associated with lead led to its removal from gasoline and paint.

In a court ruling announced yesterday, a jury found three paint manufacturers responsible for creating a public nuisance that harms children.

According to the Associated Press, paint companies made two claims in court, one with which EWG agrees and one with which we don't:

1. Levels of lead in children's blood have gone down. True! Proof that actions to limit our exposures to known toxins work.

2. Lead paint is only a problem in a small number of poorly maintained homes. False! In Ohio alone, EWG mapped out state data showing that the approximately 19,000 children under age six have unsafe levels of lead in their blood come from both rural and urban counties. Lead poisoning is a risk for all children living in older housing structures, especially those built before 1950.

The judge in this case will decide how the paint companies will cleanup, mitigation, public education or other programs.

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