High Lead Toxicity among Children of Chicago Public Schools

December 28, 2012

A recent article in the Chicago Reader revealed that despite increasing proof that lead poisoning could be very damaging to kids and results in lower test scores, an increasing number of students are repeating grades, Chicago's public school budget is not able to cover the costs of protecting its students from lead. The article highlights a woman whose son developed lifelong learning disabilities from swallowing lead-filled dust which poisoned him.

Our Illinois lead poisoning lawyers at Pintas & Mullins deeply sympathize with the mother and her innocent child.

829482_students.jpgThe unhappy mother tried everything - special needs teachers, costly tutors, organic food, and numerous doctors -- to help her son make progress in spite of his difficulties. However, the boy continued to find it hard to pay attention in school, study, and socialize with other children.

Though the number of kids affected by lead poisoning had dropped considerably since the 1970s when lead was removed from gasoline and paint, at the time of publication of the article, Chicago has the highest rate of lead poisoning of all large cities in the country.

A recent University of Illinois at Chicago study looked at the blood lead levels of third graders in the period between 2003 and 2006, and found that at 75% of Chicago's 464 elementary schools the average blood lead level of students was high enough to be judged poisonous. This is when the standards fixed by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention are taken into consideration.

The study indicates that lead-poisoned students in Chicago Public Schools stood a greater chance of failing the third grade and score considerably less in their annual standardized tests.

The director of Lead Safe Housing Initiatives at Civitas ChildLaw Center at Loyola University, Chicago, affirms that lead poisoning is an issue that can be solved. The problem can be fixed within a generation, but it is sadly not a priority for the city.
Owing to the lack of funds, the burden of spreading awareness has fallen on parents of lead poisoned children. The mother previously mentioned continues to warn other residents in the neighborhood. She discovered her son's devastating poisoning from environmental tests of their home and through blood work. She hopes that other parents do not have to go through the same suffering.

Lead poisoning occurs usually when children ingest the dust that is created when doors and windows are opened and closed. This opening and closing scatters a thin layer of invisible dust on the walls and floors. Little ones get this dust on their hands and the lead enters their systems when they put their hands into their mouths, and even the smallest amount ingested is enough to poison the blood. Once lead is present in the body, it moves over the blood-brain barrier blockade and can settle in the bones.

When the average blood lead levels of third graders in the Chicago Public Schools System was taken, close to 75% had kids with blood lead level exceeding 5, which the CDC considers to be the "level of concern". Of the most badly affected schools, average levels were above 10, even reaching 16.

If Chicago is considered to be the the country's capital of lead poisoning, Englewood is the center square. The neighborhood had the worst lead poisoning rates in the entire country in the 1990s.

The mother felt that officials didn't bother about the lead poisoning prevalence because the affected children lived in neighborhoods such as Englewood and not where their own children resided and went to school.

If your child suffered from lead poisoning, contact an experienced lead poisoning attorney to have your claim evaluated.