Life after lead poisoning: One man's story

Posted at 11:31 PM, Mar 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-09 23:31:26-05

Michael Sinsel from West Seneca remembers being just a year old and playing with his toy cars on the windowsill of his South Buffalo home.

He later learned, it was the rolling of the car, back and forth that made him extremely ill.

"I was like a year old, and I was putting the cars in my mouth and all of a sudden I was swallowing paint chips," Sinsel said.

Michael is now 22, but when he was just 12 months old, his parents noticed a change in him. Their baby boy wasn't reacting quite right. He was lethargic, had trouble walking and standing and his movements were off. They took him to the doctor to see what was wrong. The doctor then tested young Michael for lead poisoning.

"His blood lead level in 1995 was 21," his dad Michael said.

A 21 blood lead level is extremely high. A normal reading is a 0. Because of the poisoning, Michael was put on numerous medication including iron drops. Michael says he suffered the consequences, especially when it came to school.

"It was terrible. It effected everything I was doing in school, from learning, to trying to make friends," he said. "I would have loved to learn like every other student, but I would have to have a teacher by my side."

Michael says he was bullied so badly, and learning was so hard, he wanted to give up, but his dad wouldn't let him quit.

"He moved farther than anyone thought he would," said Michael's father.

With the help of his family and his teachers, Michael was able to graduate.

Today, he still suffers from memory loss, but was able to stop taking medication. His most recent lead reading was a 0.

Through it all, he says growing up with lead poisoning is something he doesn't wish upon anyone.

"It was just terrible. I would have loved to grow up like any other kid. I don't want any other kid to have to live like this."