Lead Poisoning and Massachusetts Law
With the recent press about the lead in Flint, Michigan’s water system, and the lawsuit brought by the residents of Flint, a lot of people are wondering about the signs of lead poisoning and the long term effects.
While lead poisoning certainly can cause ill effects on adults, children under six year of age are most at risk. This is due to their still developing systems and organs, and their tendency to place objects in their mouths.
Signs and Effects of Lead Poisoning
The signs of lead poisoning include fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, stomach discomfort, reduced attention span, insomnia and constipation — all of which are common symptoms children and adults experience often for reasons unrelated to lead poisoning. The only way to really tell whether your child has been exposed to lead is to have their blood tested by a medical provider.
The effects of lead poisoning are serious and long lasting: lead poisoning can result in development difficulties, decreased intelligence, slowed growth, anemia, hearing problems, and can even result in seizures, coma and death in extreme cases. Women exposed to lead during pregnancy can cause their unborn children to experience a premature birth and reduced growth as a result.
Massachusetts Law Related to Lead Poisoning
Massachusetts has an informative website with a whole host of information about the MA lead laws and the requirements for property owners. Most importantly, property owners are required by law to remove or cover any lead paint hazards in residences built prior to 1978, if there are children under 6 living there. Lead paint hazards included surfaces that have cracked, chipped, are peeling or have loose lead paint on them, as well as lead paint on windows, doors, baseboards and other surfaces readily accessible to children under six years of age.
In addition, some toys for children use parts made from China and other countries that have not banned the use of lead, and can also lead to lead poisoning. Make a careful inspection of the toys provided to young children to determine whether they are made in a foreign country that does not ban the use of lead, and research the composition of the toy to ensure it does not have any parts made of lead or lead paint.
Real estate agents and property owners required to notify buyers in all sales of homes built prior to 1978 about the risk of exposure to lead paint, and the resultant danger it poses to both adults and children, as well as inform them of the steps required to prevent lead poisoning under the state’s lead law. Landlords cannot refuse to rent to you simply because they do not wish to spend the money required to properly de-lead a home—this is a violation of the Lead Law, the Consumer Protection Act, and various Massachusetts anti-discrimination statutes that can have serious penalties for a property owner or real estate agent.
More than two thirds of Massachusetts’ homes were built prior to 1978, and only approximately 15% have been inspected and deleaded. Thus, the threat of the presence of lead in homes and apartments throughout the state remains real and constant
What to Do if You Suspect Lead in Your House or Apartment
In the event you believe your home or apartment contains lead paint or lead based items, begin by notifying the property owner. In addition, contact the local code enforcement official or board of health. Request the property owner retain a certified inspector or risk assessor to inspect the residence for lead. The EPA has a database of such certified individuals.
Contact attorneys at Keches Law if you suspect your child has been exposed to lead, or if your child has tested positive for lead. We can assist you in identifying the source of the lead and evaluating you and your child’s legal remedies.