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.