Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 03/2004

« Not following state laws leads city to revoke Housing Authority reappointment | Main | Aldermen: Weather belongs outside library »

April 01, 2007



A new, more strict lead law is the LAST thing Massachusetts needs. All houses have lead paint if they were built before 1970. If the paint is in good shape, it's not a danger. My kids have undetectable lead levels in a house with lead paint. Deleading puts the lead out into the environment as it is sanded off the OUTSIDE of SECOND FLOOR WINDOWS.

Kids can get lead poisoning digging in the dirt outside from 80+ years of leaded gasoline. They can get it from sucking on antique toys. But if there's lead in the house, it's the landlord's fault. There have been no large scale studies of this issue over 10 years. (at least ones that I can find) Perhaps we should put some effort into studying the issue to see if it really is a problem before we sand the lead off of our second floor windows for the entire neighborhood to breathe.


Message to parents with children. If you feel lead paint is a danger, do not rent apartments that have lead paint in them. Let's not create more regulations and make landlords spend tons of money on renovations for a very small population of people when those consumers can excercise free choice.


You, both, are right, Margaret and nobody2


God forbid Sen. Jehlen does something that would help families and the environment!

It all comes down to MONEY for the above posters not sad.

(Below is taken from a Government website)

Did you know the following facts about lead?

FACT: Lead exposure can harm young children and babies even before they are born.
FACT: Even children who seem healthy can have high levels of lead in their bodies.

FACT: You can get lead in your body by breathing or swallowing lead dust, or by eating soil or paint chips containing lead.

FACT: You have many options for reducing lead hazards. In most cases, lead-based paint that is in good condition is not a hazard.

FACT: Removing lead-based paint improperly can increase the danger to your family.

If you think your home might have lead hazards, read on to learn about lead and some simple steps to protect your family.

Facts about lead
Health effects of lead
Where lead is found
Where lead is likely to be a hazard
Checking your family and home for lead
What you can do to protect your family
Are you planning to buy or rent a home built before 1978
Remodeling or renovating a home with lead-based paint
Additional Resources


Health Effects of Lead
*Childhood lead poisoning remains a major environmental health problem in the U.S..*

*Even children who appear healthy can have dangerous levels of lead in their bodies.*

People can get lead in their body if they:
Put their hands or other objects covered with lead dust in their mouths.
Eat paint chips or soil that contains lead.
Breathe in lead dust (especially during renovations that disturb painted surfaces).
Lead is even more dangerous to children than adults because:
Babies and young children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths. These objects can have lead dust on them.
Children's growing bodies absorb more lead.
Children's brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.
If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:
Damage to the brain and nervous system
Behavior and learning problems (such as hyperactivity)
Slowed growth
Hearing problems
Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults can suffer from:
Difficulties during pregnancy
Other reproductive problems (in both men and women)
High blood pressure
Digestive problems
Nerve disorders
Memory and concentration problems
Muscle and joint pain
Top of Page


Where Lead is Found
*In general, the older your home, the more likely it has lead-based paint. *

Paint. Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978. Some states stopped its use even earlier. Lead can be found:
In homes in the city, country, or suburbs.
In apartments, single-family homes, and both private and public housing.
Inside and outside of the house.
In soil around a home. (Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint, or other sources such as past use of leaded gas in cars.)
Household dust. (Dust can pick up lead from deteriorating lead-based paint or from soil tracked into a home.)
Drinking water. Your home might have plumbing with lead or lead solder. Call your local health department or water supplier to find out about testing your water. You cannot see, smell, or taste lead, and boiling your water will not get rid of lead. If you think your plumbing might have lead in it:
Use only cold water for drinking and cooking.
Run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if you have not used your water for a few hours.
The job. If you work with lead, you could bring it home on your hands or clothes. Shower and change clothes before coming home. Launder your work clothes separately from the rest of your family's clothes.
Old painted toys and furniture.
Food and liquids stored in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain.
Lead smelters or other industries that release lead into the air.
Hobbies that use lead, such as making pottery or stained glass, or refinishing furniture.
Folk remedies that contain lead, such as "greta" and "azarcon" used to treat an upset stomach.
Top of Page


Where Lead is Likely to be a Hazard
*Lead from paint chips, which you can see, and lead dust, which you can't always see, can be serious hazards.*

Peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard and needs immediate attention.
Lead-based paint may also be a hazard when found on surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear-and-tear. These areas include:
Windows and window sills.
Doors and door frames.
Stairs, railings, and banisters.
Porches and fences.
Note: Lead-based paint that is in good condition is usually not a hazard.
Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded, or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled lead dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum, sweep, or walk through it.
Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes. Contact the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) to find out about testing soil for lead.
Top of Page


Checking Your Family and Home for Lead
*Get your children and home tested if you think your home has high levels of lead.*

*Just knowing that a home has lead-based paint may not tell you if there is a hazard.*

To reduce your child’s exposure to lead, get your child checked, have your home tested (especially if your home has paint in poor condition and was built before 1978), and fix any hazards you may have.

Your Family
Children’s blood lead levels tend to increase rapidly from 6 to 12 months of age, and tend to peak at 18 to 24 months of age.
Consult your doctor for advice on testing your children. A simple blood test can detect high levels of lead. Blood tests are important for:
Children at ages 1 and 2.
Children and other family members who have been exposed to high levels of lead.
Children who should be tested under your state or local health screening plan.
Your doctor can explain what the test results mean and if more testing will be needed.
Your Home
You can get your home checked in one of two ways, or both:
A paint inspection tells you the lead content of every different type of painted surface in your home. It won't tell you whether the paint is a hazard or how you should deal with it.
A risk assessment tells you if there are any sources of serious lead exposure (such as peeling paint and lead dust). It also tells you what actions to take to address these hazards.
Have qualified professionals do the work. There are standards in place for certifying lead-based paint professionals to ensure the work is done safely, reliably, and effectively. Contact the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) for a list of contacts in your area.
Trained professionals use a range of methods when checking your home, including:
Visual inspection of paint condition and location.
A portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) machine.
Lab tests of paint samples.
Surface dust tests.
Note: Home test kits for lead are available, but studies suggest that they are not always accurate. Consumers should not rely on these tests before doing renovations or to assure safety.
Top of Page


What You Can do to Protect Your Family
If you suspect that your house has lead hazards, you can take some immediate steps to reduce your family's risk:
If you rent, notify your landlord of peeling or chipping paint.
Clean up paint chips immediately.
Clean floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces weekly. Use a mop, sponge, or paper towel with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead. REMEMBER: NEVER MIX AMMONIA AND BLEACH PRODUCTS TOGETHER SINCE THEY CAN FORM A DANGEROUS GAS.
Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or dusty areas.
Wash children's hands often, especially before they eat and before nap time and bed time.
Keep play areas clean. Wash bottles, pacifiers, toys, and stuffed animals regularly.
Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted surfaces.
Clean or remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in lead from soil.
Make sure children eat nutritious, low-fat meals high in iron and calcium, such as spinach and dairy products. Children with good diets absorb less lead.
In addition to day-to-day cleaning and good nutrition:
You can temporarily reduce lead hazards by taking actions such as repairing damaged painted surfaces and planting grass to cover soil with high lead levels. These actions (called "interim controls") are not permanent solutions and will need ongoing attention.
To permanently remove lead hazards, you must hire a certified lead "abatement" contractor. Abatement (or permanent hazard elimination) methods include removing, sealing, or enclosing lead-based paint with special materials. Just painting over the hazard with regular paint is not enough.
Always hire a person with special training for correcting lead problems--someone who knows how to do this work safely and has the proper equipment to clean up thoroughly. Certified contractors will employ qualified workers and follow strict safety rules set by their state or the federal government.
Contact the National Lead Information Center(NLIC) for help with locating certified contractors in your area and to see if financial assistance is available.
Top of Page


Are You Planning to Buy or Rent a Home Built Before 1978?
Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contains lead (called lead-based paint). Lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly.

Federal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renting or buying a pre-1978 housing:

Residential Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Program
LANDLORDS have to disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint.
SELLERS have to disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint. Buyers have up to 10 days to check for lead hazards.
More information on the disclosure program.
Top of Page


Remodeling or Renovating a Home with Lead-Based Paint
*If not conducted properly, certain types of renovations can release lead from paint and dust into the air.*

Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contains lead (called lead-based paint). Lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly.

Federal law requires that contractors provide lead information to residents before renovating a pre-1978 housing:
Pre-Renovation Education Program (PRE)
RENOVATORS have to give you a pamphlet titled “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home”, before starting work.
More information on the Pre-Renovation Education Program.
Take precautions before your contractor or you begin remodeling or renovations that disturb painted surfaces (such as scraping off paint or tearing out walls):
Have the area tested for lead-based paint.
Do not use a belt-sander, propane torch, heat gun, dry scraper, or dry sandpaper to remove lead-based paint. These actions create large amounts of lead dust and fumes.
Lead dust can remain in your home long after the work is done.
Temporarily move your family (especially children and pregnant women) out of the apartment or house until the work is done and the area is properly cleaned. If you can't move your family, at least completely seal off the work area.
Follow other safety measures to reduce lead hazards. You can find out about other safety measures in the EPA brochure titled "Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home" (PDF) (26 pp, 933 KB, About PDF)". This brochure explains what to do before, during, and after renovations.
If you have already completed renovations or remodeling that could have released lead-based paint or dust, get your young children tested and follow the steps outlined to protect your family.
Top of Page


Additional Resources
You will need the free Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.
Documents and Brochures
Lead in Your Home: A Parent's Reference Guide (PDF) (67 pp, 2.1 MB)
Testing Your Home for Lead in Paint, Dust, and Soil (PDF) (20 pp, 204 KB)
Finding a Qualified Lead Professional for Your Home (PDF) (2 pp, 102 KB)
Lead Poisoning and Your Children (PDF) (2 pp, 165 KB)
Lead Poisoning and Your Children (En Español) (PDF) (2 pp, 167 KB)
Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home (PDF) (17 pp, 674 KB)
Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home (En Español) (PDF) (8 pp, 679 KB)
Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home (PDF) (26 pp, 933 KB)
Reducing Lead Hazards When Remodeling Your Home (En Español) (PDF) (26 pp, 412 KB)
Ten Tips to Protect Children from Pesticide and Lead Poisonings around the Home (PDF) (2 pp, 20 KB)
The Lead-Based Paint Pre-Renovation Education Rule: A Handbook for Contractors, Property Mangers, and Maintenance Personnel (PDF) (16 pp, 360 KB)
Lead Paint Safety: A Field Guide for Painting, Home Maintenance, and Renovation Work (PDF) (84 pp, 1.3 MB)
Other Lead Resources


Thanks for posting the lead pamphlet in all its entirety that every homeowner and renter has seen before.

My point still stands, which you haven't responded to, if you have children and feel it is a hazard, rent an apartment without lead paint. Isn't the power of free choice of how they spend their dollars by renting consumers much easier and more just than the use of force on landlords?



No, I believe that if a person chooses to rent an apartment in a dwelling, any dwelling, that the apartment should be up to all codes and available to anyone who is looking for an apartment.
If you open yourself up to renting an apartment to the public then it's just too bad that you would have to spend some money to bring it up to code to make your monthly inflated rent on that renter.


All this talk of lead in the houses and kids eating it makes me wonder what I could have become if the six of us kids hadn't eaten the paint chips off the window sills in the old house on Appleton back in the late 50s. All I know is it tasted sweet and mother seldom bought sugar. Just kidding! Mother always vacuumed the window sills and we weren't allowed to eat paint chips. Carr didn't use leaded paints that I know about for the finishing on their frames. I wonder if there's any lead in the painted items coming in from China, Burma, India etc..etc. and elsewhere to the dollar value store these days? Not many of the transient family renters own vacuum cleaners these days. They're probably to busy paying the cellphone bills for their kids to afford one.

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy


If I did not know any better, I think, by your last post, you've been sneaking some of my sarcasm pills! Posting like that could get you deported from the Progressive Republic of Davisstan.

The Painted Lady,

Dr. Mrs. McLeaded


Hi PersonDavis,

To bad about LaContessa's.....that a tradgedy! How long have they been there? I just hope whoever takes it over doesn't ruin it like Cara Donna's was.

To business, you said: "Not many of the transient family renters own vacuum cleaners these days. They're probably to busy paying the cellphone bills for their kids to afford one."

Why does some family looking to find an apartment have to be "transients"?


Hi, brickbottom - I'm a renter, so it is not about money, in my case. Recently, two prospective landlords and 2 rental agents told me that they can't rent to children under the age of 6, because there is lead paint in the apartments I called about. I didn't feel that they should be deleading; actually, I would not move into an apartment that had recently been deleaded - there is still residue after deleading. I will agree that it could be in the interest of the homeowner to de-lead their property, but as long as they do not allow children in those leaded rental properties, I think that's all that should be strictly enforced.


We are not talking about spending only 100 or 200 dollars. We're talking about a potential overhaul of a large portion of the apartment. Ripping out windows, drywall, cabinets, repainting, remolding, hiring lead inspectors afterwards, downtime with no rent coming in but still a mortgage to pay out all can amount to 10s of Thousands of dollars. And of course renters don't take care of property as well as owners do so having everything be brand new does not pay off. And as Kate state, it disturbs the lead, pushing lead out into the air, floor, the yard, etc so it doesn't suddenly become uber safe. I think the easiest thing is for people with children who feel its an issue to just rent an apartment that doesn't have lead paint to begin with-its not like they aren't out there. Also deleading an existing property is not required by code or a safety issue for the vast majority of the population. Hey I have bad knees, so I need to live on a one floor apartment without alot of stairs. So what do I do, I only rent apartments that fit those characteristics. I don't demand landlords renovate their apartments. I'm not sure where this victim mentality comes from, but its pretty unnecessary.

No families need apply

Check around. Even so-called 'progressives' who normally support this type of thinking. The ones who own 2 or 3 family homes refuse to rent to families rather than de-lead. Once again, do as I say not as I do....


Dr. Mrs. McCarthy,

You're right. I was a little too harsh on some people in that last one. I should have just said transient short time renters, you know, the ones who don't bother with things like curtains, let alone vacuum cleaners, and just write on a piece of paper and tape their name along with the 12 other co-occupants on the apartment mailbox, then when one of them moves, the name gets scribbled out. I know you know what I'm talking about. They probably won't be in the apartments long enough for the lead dust to settle on them anyhow.
I assure you, I've been thrown out of better places than the Progressive Republic of Davisstan. Like take this week for instance. It looks like we're being tossed from the bakery. I'm going to miss the pastries, but mostly I'm going to miss coffee with Rom and chatting with Annette and the regulars. Its change I guess and there's no one to blame but us lifers. I know you'll understand Dr. Maybe as mayor you can restore order or at least get a selection of fine Italian pastries and Pizzaghena for Easter over at the Crepe place. We can call it a historical buisness preservation zone. There must be arts grant funding for sixtys style chrome and glass displays with multi colored sweets that make a little kids mouth water. I'll just hold my breath when I walk in there.

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy

Person D.,

Ah, the good old days. I too have had my share of sweet canolli's. But things do change comrade. Maybe a used bookstore will take LaContessa's place? Or maybe a used clothing store? Or maybe a used politician can set up an artist's cooperative and they can all share computers? Or perhaps a new restaturant(with a life span of 6 months)? Or maybe a drop in center for homeless families driven out of their rented apartments because the landlord had to "de-lead" and then raise the rent sky high?

You see PD, every cloud has a silver lining.

Optimistically Yours,

Dr. Mrs. McCarthy

Lead is a Real Problem

Landlords are not allowed to prevent families with children under 6 from renting in their apartments - they are required to delead. Not that most landlords follow this law (there is an exception for owner-occupied 2 families.)

Deleading is important because otherwise some child, eventually, will be lead poisoned from a house. Most of the lead regulations are actually fairly reasonable about what has to be scraped, replaced, etc.

As for the issue of a deleaded house being more dangerous than one that is left alone, there is some truth to the fact that disturbing the lead can create lead dust. However, the dust wipes required before a house can be reoccupied have very low thresholds - often it takes 2-3 times before a house will pass. If you do a follow-up cleanup afterwards just to make sure the dust wipes didn't "get lucky" you should be OK.

The big issue is cost - and I think the real way to go with that is to go after the paint companies who KNEW for almost 50 years that lead was bad for kids and continued to lobby to allow it in their paint until 1978. European countries outlawed it in the 1920's or or thereabout. They should pay for the damage they knowingly did to society, like the tobacco companies. In this case, however, the money should go for deleading, not just balancing the state's budget!

Solh Zendeh

'Lead is a Real Problem' - I like that idea. Unfortunately, this is what happens when you have a limited liability free for all. Because the owners of these corporations knew that, at most, all they had to loose was their investment - they allowed the managers to make money off of absolute poison. Get rid of limited liability, and the owners and investors would be sure that the products being made by the companies they own would not kill or addle their customers - because they would be fully liable for the cost - just as it should be.

This is so simple, yet most people look at me like I want lawsuits constantly. WRONG, this would reduce lawsuits because the owners would know that they couldn't just let this crap happen. This is really the ultimate free market solution - no need for much government oversight, if you screw up you are in big big trouble - lose your house, etc.

Is she clueless

I have to say one thing. This woman is clueless! She thinks it is the schools fault that we are seeing a declining school population. Has she missed the fact that families have moved out of Somerville and been replaced by these so called progressives that are clueless as to what goes on in our schools. You know the ones, no kids, no common sense and no stake in our community.

The few progressives with children send them to the Brown School. I am sure you all know the Brown school. It is the Lilly white private school maintained by the city for the progeny of the elite of Pat's progressive’s party. This old aging building has been kept open at the expense of other children so that the progressive elite can keep the unwashed people of color away from the their offspring. Check the demographics. It is so totally out of whack with the other city schools populations. Why is this blatant racism being ignored by Pat and her followers?

Did Jehlen mention charter schools that pulled children and desperately needed funding from our public schools? What has she done to replace that funding? I'll tell you what she has done, nothing! She supports Charter schools and then hits our schools. You can't have it both ways!

I am so tired of this woman talking out both sides of her mouth.

No families need apply

As I said, many of them own two or three family owner-occupied homes, so guess what, they are exempt! And beyond that, we all know that there are many many ways to pick who you will or will not rent to. I know of a very well-known 'progressive' family in the city who very openly tell you that they won't rent to kids because they have lead paint. ALso won't send their kids to SHS (Brown school good, Kennedy, maybe, SHS - NEVER!). By the way, isn't the lead only dangerous if you eat it??? Let's start with not letting the kids eat the paint - what a concept! Why is lead paint suddently an issue in the 90's, but never before? Hmmm.......

Lead is a Real Problem

Actually, only owner-occupied 2 family homes are exempt, not 3 families, although I agree with you that there are many ways to not rent to families if you are careful not to admit the real reason.

In terms of eating paint, much if not most lead poisoning comes from kids with some nutritional shortcoming (like low iron stores in their body- not necessarily malnourishment) getting dust on their hands and eating it. The dust comes from the floor and contains lead from previous sanding or remodeling of the house. It's rare that a kid actually eats the paint.

Some progressives will not send their kids to SHS - some will. Its a free country.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Most Recent Photos

  • Danehy_Park_Family_Day
  • Bloco
  • 3517a
  • Web_toon_7_21_10
  • Prospect hill
  • Web_toon_7_14_10
  • 3224a
  • Art1(2)
  • Art5
  • Art10(2)
  • Union_square_flood
  • Flood_pic_(bridge_1)