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On behalf of Pat Crispi at Keogh Crispi PC

In 1978, the federal government banned the use of lead-based paint in residential homes, but the serious potential consequences of having lead-based paint in a home built before 1978-especially in a home with children-led federal lawmakers to pass new lead paint legislation in 2010.

The new law requires contractors to obtain special, lead-safe certification in order to work on homes built before 1978. Although undisturbed lead paint is not a hazard, construction work can create lead dust and lead paint chips that, when inhaled or ingested, can cause permanent physical and mental damage.

Lead poisoning occurs when an individual ingests or breathes in lead. Possible sources for lead are lead-based paints and children's toys produced prior to 1978. Lead poisoning affects behavior and brain function. It can cause hyperactivity as well as breathing problems and headaches and retard mental development in children.

Lead poisoning is most dangerous for children under six years of age, as lead ingestion can have adverse effects on early development. Unfortunately, young children use their mouths to explore the world, and are therefore especially prone to inhaling or ingesting lead. Although early lead poisoning symptoms, like loss of appetite, insomnia and constipation may seem common, if not identified and connected to lead poisoning early on, these seemingly innocuous symptoms can lead to permanent damage. Lasting health issues from lead poisoning include decreased attention span, retarded physical and mental development and hearing problems.

Fortunately, the state of New York has regulations in place to help doctors detect lead poisoning before permanent damage takes place. New York pediatricians are required to test for lead in one-year-old and two-year-old patients. At well-child visits for children ages three through six, pediatricians must ask parents if their child has been in contact with lead, and test for lead again if the answer is yes.

Although use of lead-based paint has been banned for over three decades, it still poses a risk to children who live in homes where it is present. Parents should look for the early symptoms of lead poisoning like loss of appetite, insomnia and constipation in order to catch poisoning early and take steps to correct the problem.

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