Lead Paint Poisoning
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 a behavior problems. A child who is lead poisoned may have no physical symptoms of lead poisoning other that elevated lead levels, but could suffer from hyperactivity, shortened attention span, speech and language delays, irritability, and inability to follow instructions.
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.
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.
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 between the ages and 9 and 12 months, and again at ages 2 and 3. Additionally, all children living in one of Massachusetts 20 communities considered at high risk for lead poisoning must also be tested at age 4. These high risk communities include Holyoke and Springfield. If you have questions, call the Massachusetts Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) at 800-532-9571.
WHAT IS THE LEAD LAW?
The Massachusetts 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.
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. Certain surfaces must be deleaded, even if intact, such as, surfaces below five feet that can be “mouthed” by a child.
WHO CAN DELEAD?
A licensed deleader must perform any high-risk deleading. An owner or agent (someone working for the owner who is not a licensed deleader) may perform some specific low-risk deleading tasks. An owner or agent may also perform some specific moderate-risk deleading tasks. A lead-safe renovator may also do moderate-risk deleading. For a referral to a lead-safe renovator, call CLPPP at (800) 532-9571.
HOW CAN I HAVE MY HOME INSPECTED FOR LEAD?
Property owners can check the Yellow Pages phone book under “lead” or call the Massachusetts Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (800) 532-9571 to get a list of licensed lead inspectors. Tenants with children under age six can call their local Lead Poisoning Prevention Program or Board of Health and ask for a free lead inspection or determination. In Springfield the number for Code Enforcement, Housing Division is (413) 787-6730. Call the CLPPP at (800) 532-9571 if this service is not available in your community.
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. Massachusetts law provides that children who suffer from lead poisoning may be able to obtain compensation from their landlord, including monetary damages. Even if a child is up to 20 years old, and was poisoned many years ago, he or she may still be entitled to bring damage claims.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.
We would be happy to consult with you about your lead paint injury claims. Feel free to make an appointment to speak with us. Our telephone number is: Springfield (413) 732-1939; Northampton (413) 586-4800; and Amherst (413) 253-3900.