Children across the southeast of Los Angeles County are exposed to lead from two distinct sources in the region-lead paint in their homes and pollution from a shut-down battery recycling plant. Officials have been aware of the problem for quite some time.
State officials have begun cleanup of the soil around the Exide Technologies plant - California's largest lead cleanup project in history. But miscommunication and mistakes between state agencies have plagued efforts to clean up lead paint in residences. And without any action, children continue to risk exposure to lead in their own homes.
How prevalent is the risk of lead poisoning?
The LA County health department is set to receive millions of dollars in federal grant money to address the issue, but they still have yet to utilize previous funds given to them. In part, it's due to other agencies refusing to provide information on the homes in need of repair. The state cites limitations in its authority for their inaction and said other agencies must respond. County health officials blame funding constraints.
In one instance, the state's Department of Community Services and Development lost a $2.5-million federal lead paint abatement grant, meant to prevent the lead poisoning of 125 children in the Exide area, due to the agency missing a filing deadline. The Los Angeles Times also reported that the city wasn't able to clean any homes in the Exide area using a $3.5-million federal grant because the Department of Toxic Substances Control would not share a list of addresses and sampling results for properties on the cleanup list.
These and other missteps have prevented the much-needed clean-up in an area that already presents a high risk of lead exposure. Lead-based paint was banned in 1978, but it remains present in countless homes built before then. Today, it remains the leading cause of lead poisoning in children across the country. Over 1,400 people under 21 tested positive for elevated blood levels of lead between 2011 and 2015. That number is likely much higher because much of the population wasn't tested.
Property owners have a responsibility to keep their property safe and free of hazardous conditions. If you're buying or renting, you should be made aware of any lead paint and be confident the property is safe. If this is not the case, your rights deserve to be protected and the responsible parties should be held accountable. If you or your child is the victim of lead poisoning because of lead paint or soil contamination, contact our law office today.