Back to top

Mayor Walsh Announces Lead Poisoning Prevention Week in Boston

October 21, 2014

Inspectional Services Department

Published by:

Inspectional Services

Mayor Martin J. Walsh will recognize National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week the week of October 20th. The Mayor’s Office of Fair Housing and Equity, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), and the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) are partnering to present several community lead awareness events. During the course of the week, programming will include an in depth discussion on lead discrimination in housing, a look at the health effects of lead, home de-leading workshops, and a seminar on lead for Boston landlords. All events are free and open to the public.

"Ninety percent of Boston housing was built before 1978 and often contains lead," said Mayor Walsh. "This puts our children at risk of lead exposure, and families at risk for housing discrimination. By hosting educational programs during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, we are raising awareness to move the City of Boston towards a safer housing stock and a healthier city." 

The Massachusetts Lead Law requires that any home built before 1978 where a child under the age of six lives must be made lead safe by removing or covering any lead paint hazards such as loose lead paint and lead paint on windows and other surfaces accessible to children. Homeowners are responsible for complying with the law. If a child is poisoned by lead hazards in their primary residence, the homeowner will be held responsible. It is illegal to evict or refuse to rent to an individual or family because of lead paint in a dwelling unit.   "Families looking for housing in Boston often experience discrimination because of the presence of lead paint, denying families the opportunity to live where they want," said Dion Irish, ‎Executive Director at the Office of Fair Housing & Equity. "State law requires property owners to remove lead hazards from homes occupied or to be occupied by children age six and under. This requirement has made some landlords reluctant to rent to pregnant women and families with children under age six, in an attempt to avoid lead abatement costs."     Lead poisoning is a serious but preventable disease that affects the development of a child, and can cause speech, hearing, learning, and behavior problems. If left untreated, lead poisoning can permanently damage a child's brain, kidneys, blood, and nervous system. Most of the time, a lead-poisoned child has no symptoms, so a blood test ordered by a pediatrician is the only way to determine the level of lead in your child’s body. The Boston Public Health Commission offers free lead testing of paint and dust. 
 

"There is no safe level of lead exposure for children," said Dr. Huy Nguyen, Medical Director and Interim Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "Lead exposure resulting in a blood lead level of 5 and above has been shown to impact a child’s IQ, can result in developmental delay and learning disabilities, and is associated with behavior problems."

The City of Boston provides services to educate homeowners about the law and how to eliminate lead in their homes. DND offers free workshops and financial assistance to help parents and property owners de-lead their home, and the ISD conducts lead determination inspections. 

"I am proud that since 1993, our partnership with the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development has helped us reduced the incidence rate of childhood lead poisoning in Boston by more than 90%," said Sheila Dillon, Chief of Housing for the City of Boston. "Families in Boston should not have to worry about lead poisoning, so the Department of Neighborhood Development’s Lead Safe program provides funding and technical assistance to assist homeowners and landlords with low cost lead paint abatement."  

"Unsafe renovation puts our children at risk of lead exposure," said ISD Commissioner William Christopher. "Moving forward ISD has committed to increasing its lead determination inspections each year by at least 20 percent. The Inspectional Services Department also offers classes for landlords and homeowners to get renovations done correctly and safely."

The schedule of events for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week hosted by the City of Boston and partners includes the following:
 

Tuesday, October 21, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. A Panel Discussion on Lead Paint & Housing Discrimination Where: The Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, 88 Warren St. Roxbury, 02119 This panel is recommended for homeowners, renters, and the general public and will cover lead paint and housing discrimination, the health effects of lead exposure on children, the Massachusetts lead law, and community resources for de-leading. RSVP to magalie686@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 22, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Lead Summit, Childhood Lead Exposure and Housing Discrimination: Both Bad for Your Health   Where: Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley St. Suite 102, Roxbury, 02119 This summit will bring together city, academic, private, and public stakeholders to develop an action plan for increasing awareness that lead is still a problem in Boston. This summit will develop strategies for reducing housing discrimination families face related to lead paint, increasing lead safe housing, lead safe renovations, and reducing the number of children with elevated lead levels. RSVP online: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/childhood-lead-exposure-and-housing-discrimination-in-boston-both-bad-for-your-health-tickets-12725384969.

Thursday, October 23, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Moderate Risk De-leading Training Where: BCYF Tobin Community Center, 1481 Tremont Street, Roxbury, 02120  The Boston Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is providing free moderate risk de-leading training to property owners, their agents, and contractors. RSVP to Tom at tplant@bphc.org. For more information, call (617) 534-5965.

Thursday, October 23, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Landlord Seminar: Rental Housing Ordinance and Lead PaintWhere: Inspectional Services Department, 1010 Mass. Ave, 5th floor Conference room, Roxbury, 02118 Landlords are invited to learn about the City of Boston’s Rental Housing Ordinance and the Massachusetts lead paint law.  Saturday, October 25, 10:30 a.m. 3D Help with Renew Boston & Lead Programs Where: BCYF Mildred Avenue Community Center, 1-5 Mildred Avenue, Mattapan, 02126  Learn about Boston Home Center home repair programs, including triple-deckers, plus Renew Boston and Leadsafe Boston. This event is part of the Department of Neighborhood Development’s Home Center University workshop.