Lead Law Changes for 2018

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health made some changes to deleading standards as well as the standards for lead poisoning in children last month.  The changes should result in lower costs to delead, and help property’s meet Initial Compliance status easier.  That progress comes at a cost – there will be more lead left in homes with children.  Please remember that the Massachusetts lead law currently states that homes built before 1978, whether tenant or owner-occupied, must be brought into compliance with the lead law if children under the age of six live there.

What are the Changes to Deleading Requirements?

  • Accessible, Mouthable Surfaces:  Window sills that are 5 feet or less from a floor, stair tread, or ground, and hand rails and railing caps must be deleaded. Surfaces like baseboards, door and window casings, and outside corners of walls that are in good condition no longer require deleading.
  • Friction Surfaces Doors (edges), door jambs, and stair treads are lead hazards and must be deleaded at all points of potential friction where the components meet. Stair treads are abated in their entirety from the balusters to the wall – or they can be covered.

What are the Changes to Acceptable Deleading Methods and Re-inspection Requirements?

  • Encapsulation:  Can now be used for Exterior Accessible, Mouthable Surfaces if: (1) the existing paint or coating is well adhered and (2) the surfaces assessment requirements are met.
  • Repainting/Sealing Floors where loose lead paint was made intact for compliance must be repainted and pass a dust wipe sample (alternatively, these surfaces can be covered).
  • Coating Removal Using Chemicals:  All doors and woodwork where chemical stripping, including off-site dipping, was utilized, will now be subject to re-inspection to ensure that the components are repainted prior to occupancy.

What are the New Lead Levels?

The lead threshold in a child’s blood level has been lowered from 25 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL) to 10 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL). Now any child who has a blood level at 10 μg/dL or higher will be considered lead poisoned and the Childhood Lead Paint Prevention Program (CLPPP) will take action. A blood level in the 5-9 μg/dL range will be considered a level of concern and CLPPP will reach out to those families with information on how to best proceed.

What is the impact on Lead Inspections?

It depends.  Section 8 housing recipients may need more frequent inspections. Otherwise, if a homeowner maintains their property and paint remains intact, their property will remain in compliance with the lead law and there should not be a need for updated inspections.

What Realtors® Need to Know:

All Letters of Compliance and Letters of Interim Control issued before December 1, 2017 remain in full effect. Parties to a real estate transaction with a Letter issued prior to December 1, 2017 may:

  1. Use the report they currently have and delead to the new standards; or
  2. Hire a licensed inspector to do an addendum as full inspection using the new reports and testing protocol.

What changes impact any unauthorized deleading?

Finally, there are some updates regarding unauthorized deleading. If a property has no previous lead inspection history, but 3 signs of deleading are found throughout the home (scraped door edges, scraped stair treads, and unusual coverage for surfaces) by a lead inspector there will be issues.  Property that was previously issued a  Documentation of Environmental Status Letter may convert to a Letter of Compliance after three years from the issuance date have passed. A new inspection using the new forms and testing protocol will be needed. If any deleading is required it must be done by authorized individuals. Only after a passing set of dust wipes and approval from the state can a Letter of Compliance be issued.