Nov 2, 2015 4:54 PM

NH1 News Investigates Living with Lead: Laconia couple seeks help after toddler poisoned

LACONIA - Imagine living in a house that is making your child ill, preventing them from talking or even eating on a regular basis.

Christine McNeil said she moved into her Laconia home back in 2014 when she was pregnant with her youngest son, James. McNeil was breathing in the air in the old New England home - not looking at the fine details like paint on the walls.

“It affects him because his appetite - he doesn’t like to eat very much - he gets tired, he can’t speak to us,” McNeil said.

Dad, James McNeil Sr., is currently unemployed which puts a financial strain on the family. So unfortunately, they’re stuck in the home that gave their son lead poisoning.

“Landlords, if they buy a house, and they don’t know much about it - they're only told so much about the house. They should have their house tested for lead,” said McNeil.

That’s exactly what the McNeils did.

They had the home tested - and to their surprise they found their son's old room had the highest levels of lead.

The toddler tested well over the dangerous blood level of 10 micrograms per deciliter. They complained to the landlord but were told it might be 90 days before she is granted money by the state to have the apartment abated.

“It could be another couple months, but then he would have to suffer longer,” said McNeil.

NH1 News tried to get a hold of the landlord to see if she knew about lead before renting it to this unsuspecting couple, but when we paid her home a visit, no one was home.

We call the Department of Health and Human Services for some more clarification on the subject, they outlined that the landlord is bound to set the family up in a lead-free apartment elsewhere while the problem is being fixed.

Other neighbors - who did not want to be identified - said they've also complained about the apartment being a ticking time-bomb for their families.

The big question is though, did the landlord know about the problem before the McNeils moved in?

Lease documents said the landlord was unsure of any lead paint issues.

But according to a conversation the McNeils said they had with the landlord’s husband days before the they moved in, that may not be the case.

“Before we have moved in they were doing like repainting there were nights that he stayed here by himself and he was scraping the paint," McNeil said. "It all probably went airborne, and he said that he thought it would absorb before we moved in. I’m assuming that I’ve been breathing it in since I was in here pregnant and that’s why James is effected so much by it."

The family is desperate to move out, telling NH1 News that James shouldn't be in the home another day. But they said they can’t afford to make a move right now.

A GoFundMe page to help the family move before the 90-day deadline.


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