• CDC’s “Lead Poisoning” Guideline Levels Lowered by Half
  • May 30, 2012 | Authors: Lucinda Alfieri DeCaprio; Julie R. Evans; John R. Henderson
  • Law Firms: Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP - White Plains Office ; Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP - New York Office ; Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP - Dallas Office
  • For the first time in 20 years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has changed its guidelines with respect to the definition of “lead poisoning,” reducing the “at risk” levels for children from a maximum of 10 ug/dL to levels of 5 ug/dL or greater. Some estimates say at least 200,000 to 350,000 more children nationwide could be considered at risk for lead poisoning under the new CDC standard.

    This change is controversial not only because some experts do not believe there can be any demonstrable effects from exposure to lead at very low levels below 10 ug/dL, but because there will be limited funding to enforce the guidelines. Generally, local municipalities adopt the CDC guidelines, but their own local inspection programs will be triggered only if a child has reported levels in excess of 15 ug/dL. It is unlikely that municipalities will lower their own guidelines in accordance with the new CDC policy.

    The effect this will have on litigation can be considerable. For example, in New York, since an infant-plaintiff’s three-year statute of limitations for negligence actions tolls until after the child’s eighteenth birthday, young adults who had recorded lead levels below 10 ug/dL many years ago will argue that they now have a cause of action under the new guidelines.

    Insurance coverage may be triggered under policies a landowner purchased decades ago, which may not contain lead exclusions.

    Also expected is a change in case law, allowing plaintiffs to proceed with an action for lead poisoning at very low levels.