The ongoing crisis in Flint, Michigan (more than four years and counting) has caused people throughout the United States to discuss and analyze the cleanliness of their water sources. It is also bringing people’s attention to the fact that Flint is not the only place with that kind of problem. As recently as this past April, New Jersey is dealing with issues of lead water contamination. Garden State residents should be aware of the possible hazards because of this problem. They should understand the health effects that prolonged exposure may cause.
Effects on the Health of Children
When it comes to lead poisoning, no one is more at risk than children and infants. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) information website on this subject states that adults have a higher tolerance for lead in their system than kids, which means less exposure is needed to experience deleterious effects. This is why New Jersey law requires that children must be tested for exposure both at the age of one and at the age of two. The same goes for any child under six years old who has not been tested in the past or may have had exposure recently.
According to the EPA, children may grow to be anemic and have issues with their behavior, learning abilities, hearing, and growth, among other health problems – and that is only with “low levels of lead in the blood.” KidsHealth adds developmental delay, decreased bone and muscle growth, and nervous system damage to that list. Extreme cases of lead poisoning can result in seizures and death.
It does not help that children may have easier exposure to lead than adults. After all, they cannot work to leave houses covered in lead paint and do not always know not to eat paint chips. If their school’s supply of drinking water has dangerously high lead levels, as was the case in Newark in 2016, that can make avoiding lead exposure even more difficult.
Effects on the Health of Infants
While in the uterus, fetuses grow their bones using calcium passed from their mothers’ bones. If those same bones also have a build-up of lead from frequent and long-term exposure, the lead may also transfer with the calcium. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that babies with high levels of lead inside them may be born prematurely, and they may be significantly smaller. Miscarriage and stillbirths are also possibilities.
Even after birth, babies may have further exposure to lead if their mothers breastfeed them. Nursing them with a bottle may not be much better if the source is also infected: according to the New Jersey Department of Health, tainted water may be responsible for as much as 60% of the lead exposure that formula-fed infants get. As you could guess, their bodies need even less exposure for harmful effects to develop than older children.
This is why expectant parents must find out if they may have lead in their bodies. This is especially vital if they have lived in areas with houses built before federal and state law banned the use of lead soldering in pipes.; (In 1986 and 1987, respectively).
Effects on the Health of Adults
The CDC has found that overexposure to lead can cause adults to experience a variety of maladies. These include fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, pain in the hands and feet, and even memory loss. All of that is just for significant short-term exposure.
Long-term exposure to lead, whether through water or other means, can cause people to experience: chronic problems with abdominal pain; depression; nausea; and cognitive issues like forgetfulness and distractedness. They note that people “may also be at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and reduced fertility.”
Perhaps the most difficult part about health effects derived from overexposure to lead is that they are not always immediately obvious. Lead takes time to build up in our bones and blood. You might only discover gradual accumulation over a long period when your system stops working as well as in the past. This makes it arguably all the more imperative that our leaders, both local and state, work to make sure that our water is as lead-free as possible.
If you or a loved one have suffered because of lead water contamination, you will want help. Not only medical help but also legal help. The experienced New Jersey lead water contamination attorneys at the Law Offices of James C. Dezao can assist you in receiving the compensation you need to help treat any health issues that resulted from this. Contact us today at (973) 358-6134 for a free consultation, so we can help you defend your claim as soon as possible.