Concerns and Precautions About Lead Paint in Homes
Published: Thursday, March 6, 2003
Updated: Monday, April 19, 2010 00:04
PLYMOUTH, N.H. -- In New England, many of the homes and apartments built before 1978 contain lead-based paint and before signing a contract, landlords as well as sellers are required to provide written information to the buyers or purchasers.
"The 'Disclosure Rule' requires landlords, property management companies, real estate agencies, and sellers to inform potential lessees and purchasers of the presence of lead-based paint in pre-1978 housing. This ensures that potential tenants and home buyers are receiving the information necessary to protect themselves...from lead-based paint hazards prior to them being obligated to purchase or rent pre-1978 housing," according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.
The EPA, HUD, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have developed a pamphlet that landlords or sellers are required to supply the buyer or renter with prior to signing a contract. The renters or buyers are then able to conduct an inspection for lead-based paint (at their own risk), over a 10-day period. In the sales contracts or lease agreements, notification and disclosure language about the presence of lead has to be included. Finally, it is the responsibility of the Realtors, sellers, and leasers to ensure compliance.
Three PSC students rented an apartment from the fall of 2002 until the end of this Spring Tom Weeks of the White Mountain Apartment Complex (WMAC). Melissa Crowley, a PSC junior recalls, "Lead paint wasn't tested for until after we had moved in...We have areas in our apartment where the paint is chipping off and landing on our things. From an online source we found out that lead paint can be in dust from chipping paint... 'I feel that Center Lodge would do something if we were in danger of becoming sick.'"
Melissa's roommate Cassandra Cash was also worried about the "dust particles", but she also feels that WMAC wouldn't put them in any danger. Cassandra says, "You don't have to actually have to eat the lead paint in order to get lead poisoning. This was disturbing. It can be found in dust particles within a room which if eaten can cause brain, nervous, and kidney system damage."
Recently, a realty company in Manchester, N.H. failed to notify homebuyers about the risks of lead-based paint. The Environmental Protection Agency announced that they have settled a complaint against Senecal Properties for not complying with the federal law. Ultimately, Senecal Properties will pay a fine of $2,500 to settle the case that stemmed from a complaint in 1998. Senecal rented a unit in Manchester to a family with four small children without notifying them of the presence of lead. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services ordered Senecal to 'abate' the property in 1997. This case was under investigation by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Robert W. Varney, the regional administrator of EPA's New England Office said, "Lead poisoning is a very serious public health threat in New England, especially in cities such as Manchester where apartment buildings and housing tend to be older. This case shows that we're serious about making sure renters and buyers get the information they need to protect themselves and their children from lead."
Lead-paint may be on windows, doors, cupboards, porches, and also on outdoor surfaces. Adults, and especially young children can get lead in their body without realizing it. One can swallow or breathe in lead dust. It can also get into the body by eating soil or paint chips. By removing the lead-based paint incorrectly, one might increase danger to themselves and the people around them. In the adult, lead may affect the digestive system, create reproductive problems in men and women, cause nerve disorders, memory or concentration problems, and muscle or joint pain. Lead is also hazardous to women because it may cause difficulties during pregnancy. Lead is even more dangerous to children because their nervous system and brains are more sensitive than that of adults. Young children and babies tend to put things in their mouths often, and those objects may contain lead dust on them. Their bodies are growing and absorb more lead. For more information visit the EPA website at www.epa.gov. In order to report a violation of the "Lead Paint Rules" contact the Call Center at 1-888-372-7341 or go to the previously mentioned web site and fill out a "tip/complaint form." For written information about lead paint dangers call the National Lead Information Center's Clearinghouse at 1-800-424-LEAD (Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 6:00 p.m.).