In a class action suit filed Thursday, Kennedy Krieger Institute, a prominent medical institute in Baltimore, was accused of knowingly exposing Black children to lead poisoning in the 1990s as part of a study on the dangers of lead paint. The lawsuit claims the children were enticed to live in lead-tainted housing and subjected to research.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say more than 100 children were exposed to high levels of lead dust in their homes despite assurances from the Kennedy Krieger Institute that the houses were “lead safe," The New York Times reports.
Reports The New York Times:
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.
The lead paint study, which started in 1993 and continued for six years, was designed to determine how well various levels of lead abatement would reduce lead in the blood of young children. The buildings where the study was carried out were generally in poor neighborhoods of Baltimore. Litigation surrounding the research has gone on for more than a decade, and in 2001 the Maryland Court of Appeals compared the study to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, which withheld medical treatment for African-American men with syphilis.
The president and chief executive of the Kennedy Krieger Institute told the newspaper that research for the study “was conducted in the best interest of all of the children enrolled.”
Studies show that African-American children are two times as likely to suffer from lead poisoning when compared to white children.
The dangers of lead dust are great: Lead dust settles quickly, is difficult to clean, and is invisible to the naked eye.