Although the number of lead poisoning cases in Baltimore has dropped by 86 percent since 2002, the problem has not been eradicated and still continues to claim victims, mostly among the city’s youth.

According to a Baltimore Sun investigation, at least 4,900 Maryland children have been poisoned by lead in the last decade. Last year, more than 260 children were poisoned throughout the state, 129 of which were in Baltimore.

Lead poisoning exposes the brain to contaminants that can cause lasting behavioral and learning problems. Even a small dose of lead can damage a developing brain and nervous system.

A Failing System

The investigation faults the continuing cases to a flawed system meant to protect children from deteriorating lead paint, which is inadequately enforced and filled with errors.

Through a commitment to end lead poisoning by 2010, several state laws have been passed and strengthened in the last 21 years that require landlords to address lead-based paint that is chipping, flaking or peeling. A system is also in place that is meant to keep track of and inspect all rental homes old enough to have lead-based paint.

Unfortunately, the law is largely self-enforced. Properties are supposed to be checked for hazards, but rarely are. The city says it simply does not have the funds to perform sweeping inspections, and instead only responds to complaints or results showing a child has been poisoned.

The Maryland Department of the Environment maintains a database of registered rental homes that are supposed to be lead-safe. The properties are required to be inspected before a tenant moves in, and if paint starts to chip or come off the walls, it must be fixed within 30 days.

However, the registry has been sharply criticized for letting properties slip through the cracks. Many rental homes are still rented despite being unregistered, and some that are registered are not guaranteed to have passed an inspection.

The Baltimore Sun investigation identified 16 rental properties in the 2600 block of Miles Avenue that did not have an up-to-date registration with the state, and two more were never registered. Only three properties of 21 homes identified as rentals in the community had all of their paperwork in order.

Maryland Lead Paint Lawyers

The damage from lead paint can be life altering. If your child or loved one has suffered because of lead poisoning, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit for damages. Schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney at Goldberg Finnegan today to discuss your legal rights.