Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children younger than 6 years are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.
Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older buildings are the most common sources of lead poisoning in children. There is treatment for lead poisoning, but taking some simple precautions can help protect you and your family from lead exposure before harm is done.
Legal Aid can help! Click here for an informative brochure about Lead Poisoning: Know Your Rights, Remedies & Resources. You can also browse other Legal Aid articles related to lead poisoning and related FAQ's and brochures by clicking here.
Get Tested for Lead
Young Children at Risk
Children 6 years old and under are at most risk for damage from lead poisoning. Children may be at risk of lead poisoning if:
- They live in or visit a home built before 1978.
- Paint is peeling on windows or doors.
- Large patches of bare dirt are exposed around their home.
Have your child’s doctor test your child’s blood lead levels. If you are covered by Medicaid, the lead screening will be covered. If the blood lead level is above 5 μg/dl there is cause for concern.
If the blood lead level is above 10 μg/dl, Ohio law requires the Ohio Department of Health or a local health department to inspect the child’s home for lead hazards. Update your contact information with the child’s doctor to ensure the Department of Health can inspect.
Call the Ohio Department of Health at 877-532-3723 to get more information on having the place a child lives or visits tested for lead. Cleveland residents should call 216-664-2175. Other Cuyahoga County residents should call 216-201-2000.
Get the Lead Out
If you live in a rental unit built before 1978, notify your landlord in writing if there is any peeling paint, large patches of bare dirt on the premises, or if your child has lead poisoning and request that your landlord make repairs. Date the letter and keep a copy for your records. If your landlord fails to make repairs within 30 days, under Ohio law you may:
- Deposit your rent in escrow at the court. You must be current in rent payments to use this process. See step by step directions for rent depositing at: https://tinyurl.com/LegalAidRentDeposit.
- Apply to the court to order the landlord to make repairs to lead hazards.
- Terminate your lease and move.
- Depositing rent may waive your rights to sue your landlord for any injury resulting from the lead poisoning. To consider any claims against your landlord, consult with an attorney before depositing rent.
Call Legal Aid if your landlord files an eviction or raises your rent after you have provided notice of a lead condition or because you have contacted the Health Department because of lead conditions.
Contact your local public health authorities for information on assistance programs to make your home lead-safe. Federal law requires disclosure of any known lead hazard at the time of sale.
Help Your Child
Lead poisoning may have long term effects including attention difficulties, behavior problems, or learning challenges. A nutritional diet early on may help. For more information see: www.epa.gov/lead.
A child under the age of 3 years old that has been lead poisoned may qualify for early intervention Help Me Grow services, even if they are not showing signs of delay. Call Help Me Grow at 800-755-4769.
If a child has learning or behavior problems in school, ask the school to evaluate the child for special education services. Let the school know the child was lead poisoned, and it is impacting the child’s education.
- Put the request in writing.
- Date the request and keep a copy.
- If you are not given a written response within 30 days, contact Legal Aid.
Personal Injury Suit
You may have claims if your child has been lead poisoned. Lawsuits based on lead poisoning may be difficult to prove. Call your local bar association to consult with an attorney who handles personal injury claims.
Legal Aid’s Brief Advice Clinics
Want to talk in-person with an attorney? In addition to in-person and phone intake, Legal Aid offers Brief Advice Clinics in neighborhoods throughout Northeast Ohio. At the Clinics you can talk in-person with an attorney and ask questions about your legal problem. See the complete schedule: Clinics – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (lasclev.org).
Contact the Bar Association
Contact your local bar association for a referral to a private attorney.
- Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association: 216-696-3532
- Lorain County Bar Association: 440-323-8416
- Lake County, Ohio Bar Association: 440-350-5800
- Geauga County Bar Association: 440-286-7160
- Ashtabula County Bar Association: 440-415-4503