Lead-Based Paint Poisoning: Remedies for the HUD Low-Income Homeowner When Neglect is No Longer Benign

Lead-based paint poisoning is a completely preventable disease which particularly afflicts young children living in deteriorating areas of the cities. It is caused by the ingestion of paint chips containing significant amounts of lead that have fallen or been picked off ceilings, floors, and woodwork of older houses. Repeated ingestion of such paint chips can lead to mental retardation, permanent impairment of intellectual ability, cerebral palsy, and blindness. Every year at least 400,000 children show some effect of lead poisoning; 50,000 of them need treatment; and 200 children die of the disease. The early symptoms of lead poisoning are changes in behavior, with the child becoming fussy and irritable, and vomiting intermittently. These symptoms often are passed off by parents and doctors as indicative of the common cold. Often permanent damage has already occurred by the time the actual cause is determined. In addition to the physical toll, treatment of this disease costs the nation nearly $200 million annually.