We feel that this whole topic of lead paint is pretty important especially to families, or those wanting to start a family. Don’t think this is just about buying a home, but also renting an older home. Well how old does a home have to be to be considered an “Old Home”? As a nation wide effort to help prevent lead poisoning especially in young children all lead paint was banned in 1978. So if your home is newer than 1978 the State does not require Lead Testing. However this does not mean you home won’t contain lead. Older paints could have been used in newer homes, which is why it is required that children get tested for lead during their yearly physicals until the age of 3.
So lets just break down the “Lead Law,” which is also know as the Massachusetts Poisoning Prevention Act. In the Massachusetts laws it is located in “Part 1: Title XVI: Chapter 111: Sections 189 A-199 B“, (in case you wanted to read it all for yourself) basically the law requires either removal or encapsulating of lead paint in a home where children under 6 years of age are living, also it states that all home owners are responsible; including owners of rental properties, as well as single family homes. Lead paint hazards include but are not limited to, loose lead paint, lead paint found in plaster, lead paint on windows, and lead paint on any surface accessible to children.
Some people wonder why children under the age of 6 are at a higher risk of lead poisoning then anyone over that age. Well let me explain… young children tend to touch everything, then put their hands in their mouths, or find little things on the floor to eat, including paint chips. Even if you’re a “helicopter parent” constantly hovering over your child watching everything they do, your child is still at risk in an older home. Paint and plaster degrades over time, which means it flakes, and can even turn into dust. Those chips and that dust can easily get onto toys, clothing, bedding, food, and even has a possibility of getting into the lungs just by breathing. Since children are smaller than adults and their little bodies are not developed enough to rid the body of those small amounts of lead, then it builds up, and they can get sick. So yes this is a serious topic.
Now that we know the law, and have a better understanding of why it is in place, lets talk about how to be compliant, and keep those kiddos safe!
Step 1: Hire a licensed Lead Inspector to have your home tested if it was constructed before 1978. (Just know any results will be filed with the Board of Health of the town which the home resides.)
Step 2: If lead paint is found hire a Licensed De-leader to remove or encapsulate the lead hazard. After the work is done it must be approved by the Board of Health. Once approved the home owner will receive a letter of full compliance and the letter will also be on file with the town.
There are 2 different ways to have the lead hazard cared for. The first is have full compliance, which is have all the hazards corrected at once. The second option is to have the urgent hazard corrected and then control the remaining hazard, this process is called “Interim Control”. It can help with the cost of having all the lead hazard corrected at one time. Interim Control must still have the lead hazard fully correct within 2 years to receive full compliance, if this is not done there will be penalties, which can become more costly than actually having the work finished.
Did you know as a home owner you can take a certified course on how to properly control the hazard? After completion there are certain tasks you can do for the licensed professional; which will also help negate some of the costs. If the expense is an issue remember with any project of compliance like this there are always programs for financial help such as, tax credits, grants, and loans.
A few other points we would like to make mostly pertaining to rentals, is that a property owner cannot refuse to rent to a family with children under 6 due to possible lead hazards, that is discrimination. They would have to correct the issue not refuse to rent. The second is that it is highly illegal for any property owner to ask a tenant to sign an agreement where they are not held liable if a child gets lead poisoning. The property owner is always liable for any lead hazard on their property, so don’t let them fool you with that.
So the “Lead Law” is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. Which is good due to it actually being a potentially serious health hazard. If you’d like more information regarding your child’s health and lead poisoning you can visit The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP). CLPPP goes over the prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of lead poisoning, plus a wealth of other knowledge on the subject.
When looking for a lead inspector don’t forget they need to be licensed, and the state of Massachusetts provides a list of them on their official website. Or if you are looking for a certified De-leader there is a list of currently certified de-lead contractors on the Massachusetts Government website.