Lead paint was banned in 1978 to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in children who might ingest paint chips or breathe in lead dust. But in Baltimore, a prominent medical institute conducting research from 1993 to 1999 on the toxic impact of lead, allegedly placed more than 100 children in grave danger of lead in order to determine the effectiveness of a lead abatement program.
According to the class action suit filed last week, the Kennedy Krieger Institute placed the children, ages 1 to 5 years old, in housing containing high levels of lead and lead dust, but did not warn parents. Instead, the suit alleges, they kept that information quiet in order to measure the children’s blood to determine lead levels during abatement. The suit also charges that the Institute not only told parents their apartments were safe from lead contamination, but worked with landlords to secure public financing for lead abatement.
During the two-year period that each child was studied, the children received no medical treatment, even when some of the children’s blood lead levels were registering two-and-half times above an accepted blood lead level.
The Kennedy Krieger Institute is a research and patient care facility for children, which is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. Johns Hopkins was not named in the suit.
This unfortunate situation underscores the importance of testing homes, apartments and businesses for lead-based paint and lead dust. Today, 33 years after lead paint was banned, children are still being poisoned by lead and lead dust. This is not just an inner city problem; lead-based paint is still present in virtually every home built before 1978. And parents, just like those in Baltimore, have no clue their home contains lead, which may be lurking under layers of other paint. Each time the paint is disturbed – during renovation work or by simply opening or closing a window – lead dust can be released.
For more information on lead, click here.