Whom to Contact
If you are pregnant or have a child under 6 years of age, you should arrange to have your home tested for the presence of lead paint as soon as possible. You can do this by asking your landlord to have a licensed lead inspector do a "lead determination" or a full lead inspection of your home.17 If the landlord refuses to have a lead inspection done, you can do some tests for lead yourself by using a home lead testing kit, which is available in most hardware stores. If you find any lead, you should immediately notify your landlord and either your local Board of Health or the CLPPP in writing and ask them to take care of the situation before your child gets poisoned.
Tenants with children under age 6 or who are pregnant can also obtain a free lead inspection by calling the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program or Board of Health in your city or town.18 If this service is not available in your community, you can call CLPPP at 800-532-9571 to arrange for an inspection. You can also hire a private licensed lead inspector to inspect your apartment, and, if illegal levels of lead are found, you can get back the cost of the inspection from your landlord. All lead inspectors must be licensed by CLPPP;19 you can search for licensed lead inspectors or deleaders on the CLPPP website.
The presence of lead paint hazards in an apartment where a child under 6 is living is a violation of the state Sanitary Code and is considered an emergency matter which your landlord must address immediately.20 If you have a child under 6 living with you, you are entitled to receive a lead inspection from your local Lead Poisoning Prevention Program or Board of Health within 5 days of making a request for one.21 You should be persistent in asking them for a lead inspection as soon as possible. If you run into problems with your local town or city agency in getting a lead inspection done, call CLPPP immediately.
How the Inspection Works
You should be present when the licensed lead inspector comes to your apartment to conduct an inspection so that you can point out areas that you think might have lead paint. Don't hesitate to ask any questions that you have and get an explanation of what the inspector finds. The lead inspector may use several different methods to test different areas. The inspector must test all the painted surfaces in your apartment, in the common areas (like hallways, staircases, basement, entranceway), and on the outside of the building that are accessible to children (front stairs, porches, windows, etc.).22
The inspector will then fill out a report that clearly identifies where there is lead paint, where there is loose, cracked, or peeling paint, and whether or not a surface tested positive for lead. A full lead inspection should take 3-4 hours to complete. The inspector must give you a copy of the completed report, send a copy to CLPPP or the local Board of Health, and send a copy to the property owner, who must distribute it to all occupants of the building.23
If lead paint is found in your apartment, immediately notify your landlord in writing that you want the lead hazards removed. Your own written notice to the landlord is important to do (in addition to the inspector's notification) to protect yourself in case the landlord tries to evict you. The law prohibits a landlord from retaliating against you for asserting your rights to protect your child from lead poisoning.24
You should immediately contact your local Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Board of Health, or CLPPP to inform them of the results of the inspection. Your local Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Board of Health, or CLPPP (whichever did the inspection) is required to issue an Order to Correct Violations to the landlord when a lead inspector has identified lead violations in a home or apartment in which a child under 6 years of age lives or in which a child under 6 years of age who is lead poisoned has lived within the last 12 months.25 These agencies have the legal power to make the landlord correct any dangerous lead hazards in your apartment in a timely manner by fining the landlord or even bringing a criminal complaint against her in court if she does not comply with the Order.26
17 . Lead determination means a lead inspector’s detection of the presence or absence of dangerous levels of lead on one or more selected surfaces in a dwelling unit or residential premises, but not on all surfaces which would require testing for a full lead inspection. See 105 C.M.R. §460.400(C).
18 . 105 C.M.R. §§460.700(B), 460.710(C); 105 C.M.R. §410.820. The priority for a local health inspection agency will always be to address emergency situations first (no heat in winter, lead-poisoned child, dangerous rodent infestation, etc.). Home buyers will need to hire their own private inspectors unless the property has previously had a full lead inspection and the seller supplies you with a copy of that inspection report.
20 . G.L. c. 111, §198; 105 C.M.R. §410.750(J).
21 . G.L. c. 111, §194; 105 C.M.R. §410.820(A)(2); 105 C.M.R. §460.710.
23 . 105 C.M.R. §460.750(A)(2).
24 . G.L. c. 186, §18; 105 C.M.R. §460.190(B).
25 . 105 C.M.R. §460.750(B)(2).