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The dangers of lead poisoning can have unforeseen consequences

Last summer, one of the officers that faced charges over the arrest and subsequent death of a Baltimore native received an acquittal. The officers arrested the 25-year-old suspect for possession of a switchblade. From the time the officers placed the suspect in handcuffs and their arrival at the police station, the suspect had suffered from severe spinal cord injuries and was unconscious. One week later, the young man died as a result of those injuries.

Before the young man found himself on the wrong side of the law, he was what is commonly known as a "lead kid." He was one of tens of thousands of Baltimore children that had suffered long-term exposure to lead-based paint that was present in the home. At 9 months old, the Baltimore native had lead in his blood that was more than twice the level at which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends action. At 12 months old, his blood lead level was six times higher than the CDC's limit. By the time he was close to 2, his levels were eight times higher. Overall, his blood lead level was 37 times higher than the average level of most children under five.

When a child is exposed to low levels of lead over an extended period of time, it can result in behavioral and learning problems. The child might show signs of increased aggression and hyperactivity. Also, this kind of exposure can lead to a permanently reduced intelligence quotient (IQ). If a child suffers exposure to high levels of lead, it can cause coma or possibly death.

Long-term lead exposure can also have life-long effects, even after the exposure ceases. For example, studies have shown that children that once had high levels of lead in the blood have a higher tendency to drop out of school, engage in substance abuse, commit violent criminal acts and even spend time in jail.

While the government has taken steps to reduce lead exposure, there is an average of four million children that still come into contact with lead substances in the home. Of these, 500,000 that are under the age of five are suffering from higher than average blood lead levels.

Unsafe housing is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning across the country, including in Beverly Hills and the surrounding area. If you are worried that there might be lead in the paint or water pipes of your home or apartment, it is important to remember that, as a tenant, you have the right to live in a safe living space. If your landlord refuses to take the necessary action to protect you and your family from lead poisoning, you may be able to take legal action.

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