By Katie Lange, http://www.wbaltv.com/
A 17-year-old Baltimore boy who suffered permanent brain damage due to lead paint exposure where he lived when he was younger has been awarded $2 million in a civil case.
The victim, who wasn’t named because he’s a juvenile, was exposed to lead paint while living with his grandmother and mother at a home in the 1600 block of East 25th Street in northeast Baltimore from the time of his birth in 1997 until 2001, court testimony revealed.
The $2,088,550 verdict in the case against Elliott Dackman, of The Dackman Company, was rendered Friday, finding him negligent in failing to maintain the home in accordance with Maryland law. Officials said Dackman was the principal person behind the company that owned the building, as well as another company, Jacob Dackman & Sons LLC, which managed it.
“All the landlord had to do was paint the house, and they didn’t,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, Bruce Powell, of the Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl.
During the trial, experts testified that the boy suffered permanent brain damage that resulted in a loss of four to five IQ points, as well as several cognitive deficits, attention and focus problems, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
“He’s been struggling in school up to this point, serious problems. He’s in high school. Last year, his GPA was below 1.0. (He’s) taking bridge classes and doing Saturday mornings to try and stay on track to graduate. It looks very iffy at this point,” Powell said.
Officials said in December 1997, the boy was tested and found to have a lead level of 12 micrograms per deciliter. That rose one point higher five months later, and eventually rose to 14 mcg/dl — more than double the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reference level that’s used to identify kids with lead paint exposure. Read more
By Lynne Peeples, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
The worn, heart-shaped rug that greeted you upon entering Angela Molloy Murphy’s preschool was a reflection of the love she has for the 17 children she cares for daily in her home’s remodeled basement.
To Tamara Rubin, however, the welcome mat was more of a warning sign.
“You need to throw this out,” Rubin told Murphy.
Rubin is executive director of the nonprofit Lead Safe America Foundation. On a visit to the preschool earlier this May, she pointed an X-ray fluorescence heavy-metal detector at the rug’s faded red threads and relayed the bad news: It was loaded with lead.
Within the course of an hour, Murphy learned just how pervasive the toxic heavy metal was in her home and school: It was in the chips of lead paint on her deck steps, in dust rubbed free from door and window frames, in the glazes on her students’ thrift-store mugs. The rug itself, Rubin suggested, was likely a reservoir for lead chips and dust tracked around on students’ shoes.
Lead has been a popular paint additive for centuries. It speeds up drying and increases durability, as its makers once boasted in their marketing materials. But as a judge ruled in a high-profile case in California last December, lead paint manufacturers spent much of the 1900s deceiving the public with another claim: That their product was safe, even for young children, despite a long history of evidence suggesting otherwise. Ben Franklin wrote of lead’s “mischievous” effects in 1786, and one lead-paint maker admitted in aninternal company memo in 1900 that “any paint is poisonous in proportion to the percentage of lead contained in it.”
The science remains clear that anyone can be affected by lead exposure, and that children under the age of 6 face the greatest risk. And as lead exposure is linked to a growing list of health conditions, researchers are finding that it takes less and less lead to put one at risk. Read more
By Ray Henry, http://www.insurancejournal.com/
A Georgia food processor linked to a deadly salmonella outbreak shipped thousands of pounds of peanut products after learning its products were contaminated and cheated on testing, a former plant manager testified this week.
Samuel Lightsey is a key government witness against his former boss, Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell, and two others.
He described documents to jurors that show Peanut Corporation shipped peanuts to companies in Missouri, Illinois and other points after receiving laboratory warnings that product samples had tested positive for salmonella. In other instances, the company cheated on safety testing by switching samples, Lightsey said.
In one instance, company records from September 2007 show the firm requested testing on a sample of peanut paste made for Kellogg’s before plant workers actually made the paste. Lightsey said company workers had pulled a sample from an earlier batch. Prosecutor Patrick Hearn asked whether the company could have known whether those products were safe.
“They would have not known unless they had additional samples pulled,” Lightsey said.
The 2008-09 salmonella outbreak caused one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history. Food safety investigators found more than 700 people across the country were infected and nine people died — three in Minnesota, two in Ohio, two in Virginia, one in Idaho and one in North Carolina.
Lightsey examined photographs showing evidence of water leaks and described sanitation problems inside the plant. Salmonella can be spread when outside water carrying contaminants seeps into a food processing facility. The photographs showed what Lightsey described as mold and mildew, water stains under a vent in a packaging room and condensation around plant fans. Lightsey said workers kept a pellet gun inside the facility so they could shoot birds that got inside.
“There was multiple areas in the plant that were leaking,” said Lightsey, who explained workers would cover food products with plastic to keep them dry. Read more
By JC Sevcik, http://www.upi.com
The department announced their have been eight cases of invasive meningococcal disease in the county so far this year, the L.A. Times reports.
Invasive meningococcal disease causes meningitis, an inflammation of the the meninges, the protective membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can be spread through exposure to sneezing and coughing and contact with saliva and mucous. Kissing, sharing beverages or cigarettes, and living in group settings can transmit the bacteria responsible for infection.
Symptoms usually onset within five days of exposure to the bacteria, and may include a high fever, stiff neck, aches, and an aversion to bright lights.
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- Colorado flood cleanup advice: Be safe, be patient, keep records (denverpost.com)