Boy, 3, suffers ‘lead poisoning’ after eating mud in garden as mum desperate to move

A mum-of-two is desperate to move out of her council flat after claiming her three-year-old son suffered lead poisoning from the garden.

Layla Carter, 27, is trying to get Bristol City Council to rehouse her family but claims her request has been refused because work has been done to try and fix the issue.

However, she says more tests need to be carried out as her son Vinnie’s lead levels continue to rise.

Layla says her son has pica, an eating disorder that causes him to eat things that are not food such as mud and sand.

She says he is also being assessed for autism.

She said: “It is heart-breaking to know that he is going through something like this and it feels like the council and public health are not taking it seriously.

“I feel guilty that I can not protect him as a mother. I have no control over this which is not nice.

“It has made me depressed and it is awful to live with this day to day. He is being poisoned by this property. It is not safe at all, but they are not listening to me whatsoever.

“They think we have done the front garden so that is sorted, but I think they should move us out of this address for the safety of my child with additional needs that is only three years old. It is not every day that a child gets lead poisoning. This property is toxic for my child.”

Layla says Vinnie started having white poos last year and that, despite taking him to A&E, they could not work out what was causing this.

At the beginning of the year, Vinnie started to eat the walls in the front room and he had a blood test in March.

The mum says a GP told her that Vinnie had lead poisoning, as well as being anaemic and having a low blood count.

She says public health officials came around soon after to test the garden and flat for lead.

She said: “I had an email and phone explaining the front garden was really high in lead and arsenic and that the council would come to dig the mud out and put concrete down.

“That was just for the front garden. They said the back garden was not too much of a concern and that inside the house it was okay.”

She says that despite the work on the garden being done, Vinnie’s blood test from June showed his lead levels had doubled from 0.62 to 1.24.

Since they’ve started staying at a relative’s house, Vinnie’s lead levels have dropped to 1.05.

She believes the issue is coming from the back garden as the property backs onto a road that used to have a petrol station nearby.

Layla said: “He was still eating mud from the back garden.

“We try and stop him, but he gets very aggressive and he lashes out. It is awful, it is as if his body craves mud.

“It has been very stressful and I am on antidepressants now. My older son is having anxiety attacks since all this started as he gets very anxious thinking that he is going to get poisoned as well.”

She adds that Vinnie has been suffering from stomach pains and can sometimes go ten days without eating food.

She fears the lead poisoning could also be having a neurological impact and said his sleeping has been very bad, adding he only has up to four of broken sleep at night and wakes up constantly.

The mum said she has asked them to test more areas of the garden, but that her request has been declined.

She said she also asked to be moved, but the council has said no as the work has been done. She is appealing this decision.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson told BristolLive: “The council is supporting the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to investigate this case. After a referral from the UKHSA, three samples were taken from the property by our Public Protection team.

“Two samples were taken from the rear garden and one from the front garden. The sample from the front garden found concentrations of lead above the nationally-recognised guideline criteria. From the findings, works were undertaken immediately by the council’s Estates Management Repair Service to dig out the affected soil and cover this area with concrete.

“Tests were also taken inside the house and the levels of lead within paint and water sources were not a health concern, and additional testing was not required by the UKHSA. The number of tests taken in the property and garden areas was as advised by the UKHSA. The nearby land, where there was once a petrol station, has also been investigated and has not been found to be a potential source of lead. The UKHSA and partners, including Bristol City Council, are keeping the situation under review while the investigation continues.”