Massachusetts is widely known for its antique homes and historic towns, but with older homes comes unavoidable dangers. Lead paint has been banned from household paints since 1978, and even though this has had a positive impact on new construction and safety, more than two thirds of homes built in Massachusetts were built prior to 1978. To make matters worse, only about 15% of these lead ridden homes have been inspected and remediated. Many people believe the issues pertaining to lead paint are a thing of the past, but in fact, children are being poisoned daily. Last year alone, 5,000 children in Massachusetts tested positive for what is considered to be elevated lead levels.
The Boston Globe recently published an article that details the obstacles that families and children must face when it comes to Massachusetts’s lead laws, and how the state is allowing children to fall through the cracks. According to the article, a young boy by the name of Jahnyi O’Neil had a routine blood test that revealed elevated blood levels at the age of one. The blood level was high enough that it was considered to be nearly double the amount that the federal health officials say can harm children. The more unfortunate circumstance was that the doctors were not required to notify state authority, or discuss the danger of lead with the family. The reason behind this is because in Massachusetts, the standards allow a much higher level of lead in the blood before the state will intervene. It took the child’s blood level a year, tripling in numbers, before it reached a threshold where there was at home intervention. By waiting this long to take care of the problem, the child could have suffered from major impairments and brain damage.
While lead poisoning is something that can be so preventable, the laws are making it nearly impossible to intervene early enough to make a difference. By the time the lead levels are detected, and high enough to report, the child has already been put into a compromising position. The effects of lead are permanent, and irreversible- which is one major reason that the state, doctors and families should not wait to react.