Were African-American Children Intentionally Poisoned With Lead?

A new lawsuit claims that a Baltimore-based medical institute knowingly exposed black children to lead in order to test paint.

Posted: 09/21/2011 10:04 AM EDT

A lawsuit filed against Kennedy Krieger Institute states that, in the '90s, the Baltimore-based medical institution knowingly exposed children — as young as one years old — to lead poisoning in order to test the health hazards of paint for a study. The lawsuit also says that the parents were told that the paint was safe, when in fact it contained high levels of "lead dust."

 

The study, primarily focused on poor neighborhoods, told parents that it would be a two-year study, but the study started in 1993 and ended in 1999.

 

The New York Times reports:

 

The institute, a research and patient care facility for children that is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, periodically tested the children’s blood to determine lead levels.

 

But, the lawsuit said, Kennedy Krieger provided no medical treatment to the children, who ranged in age from 12 months to 5 years old. Lead exposure was a significant cause of permanent neurological injuries in some of the children, according to the suit. Johns Hopkins, which approved the study, is not a defendant in the lawsuit.

 

In a statement, Dr. Gary W. Goldstein, president and chief executive of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, stated that the tests were done to benefit all children, given that lead poisoning is a huge issue in Baltimore overall, and the city and state lack any real regulations on it. His study was trying to help in setting new regulations by testing the paint on the children.

 

Regardless of Goldstein's remarks that this study was for the greater good, the Maryland Court of Appeals doesn't buy that, and in 2001 they compared this study to the Tuskegee experiments.

 

According to KidsHealth.org, long exposure to lead can result in many health issues, such as decreased bone and muscle growth, poor muscle coordination, damage to the nervous system, kidneys and/or hearing, speech and language problems, developmental delays, seizures and unconsciousness (in cases of extremely high lead levels).

 

(Photo: NewsWise/WikiMedia Commons)

From Our Partners