WHAT IS LEAD PAINT? Lead is one of the many elements of the Periodic
Table. Taken from the earth and refined, it appears as a bluish-white substance.
Lead is often converted from its elemental form into other chemical forms,
such as lead carbonate, the pigment used in paint. Despite the danger, lead
provided excellent color stability in paint pigment, and this quality made
the element quite desirable.
WHAT IS LEAD POISONING? Lead poisoning is a disease caused by lead
in the body that is especially dangerous for young children. It can cause
permanent damage to the brain, kidneys and nervous system. Even low levels
can slow a child's development and cause learning and behavior problems.
WHERE CAN I HAVE MY CHILD TESTED FOR LEAD POISONING? Your doctor,
health care provider, local health clinic, health department or lead poisoning
prevention program can test your child's blood for lead. The Massachusetts
Lead Law requires that all children be tested for lead annually between the
ages of 9 months and 4 years.
WHAT DOES DELEADING MEAN AND WHICH SURFACES MUST BE DELEADED?
Deleading means to remove or cover lead violations. Not all lead paint must
be deleaded. For instance, an entire wall does not have to be deleaded, but
all the paint must be intact. Only the following surfaces must be deleaded,
even if intact: Surfaces below five feet that can be "mouthed" by a child.
These could include but are not limited to, wall corners, doors, stairs, railings,
windows, baseboards, and chair rails. Parts of windows (with sills below five
feet) that move or touch moving parts.
HOW DOES AN OWNER COMPLY WITH THE LEAD LAW? There are two ways
to comply: Have all lead hazards corrected. You must first hire a licensed
lead inspector who will test your home for lead and record all lead hazards.
Or have only urgent lead hazards corrected, while controlling remaining hazards.
This temporary method is called Interim Control. You must first hire a licensed
risk assessor who will show you what work must be done for Interim Control.
A home may be under control for up to two years.
HOW DO CHILDREN BECOME LEAD POISONED? Children are most frequently
lead poisoned by household lead paint dust. Lead dust is created by chipping
or peeling paint, opening and closing lead painted windows, or repairs or
renovations to lead painted surfaces. This lead dust rests on surfaces which
children touch and then clings to their hands and toys. Children ingest this
lead dust when they put their hands or toys into their mouths. Children are
also lead poisoned by mouthing lead painted surfaces and eating lead paint
chips. In rare instances, children are lead poisoned by lead contaminated
water and soil.
WHAT IS THE LEAD LAW? The Lead Law requires the deleading or interim
control of lead hazards existing in homes built before 1978 where children
under six live. Owners are responsible for complying with the Lead Law and
paying the costs to delead. This includes owners of rental property as well
as owners living in their own single-family or multi-family home.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHILD IS LEAD POISONED? A blood test is the
only sure way to detect lead poisoning. There are often no symptoms.
IS A PROPERTY OWNER LIABLE FOR A LEAD POISONED CHILD? If a child
is lead poisoned by lead hazards where the child lives and the owner has not
complied with the Lead Law, the owner is legally responsible. An owner cannot
avoid liability by asking tenants to sign an agreement that they accept the
presence of lead paint. Nor can an owner refuse to rent to families with children
under six years of age in order to avoid Lead Law responsibilities. This is
discrimination, and it is illegal under the Lead Law and federal and state
fair housing laws. Complying with the Lead Law is the best protection an owner
has from liability and a child has from lead poisoning.