SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Homeowners in Springfield are encouraged to apply for funds to help remove lead-based paint.
The city-wide lead abatement program offers funds to Springfield residents in the form of grants to single-family homeowners and forgivable loans for investor-owned properties. The City procures a licensed lead abatement contractor for the work to be done and manages the project from start to finish, assisting the homeowner in overseeing completion.
According to a news release sent to 22News from the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, Springfield is one of the highest risk communities in Massachusetts for lead poisoning, based on the number of children identified as having elevated blood lead levels; the percentage of families living below 200% of their poverty threshold; and the percentage of housing built before 1978.
We would love to have more homeowners, more residents take advantage of the funds that we have remaining, and there’s quite a bit. The benefits are tremendously important, particularly to the health and well being of young peopleNigel Greaves, Senior Program Manager, Lead Hazard Reduction Program
Wesley Swan, a Springfield homeowner, said, “As a first-time homebuyer of a two-family home, I wanted to do some work to prepare the rental unit for occupancy. Participating in the lead abatement program allowed me to not only fast track that rehab I had in mind, but also opened up the pool of tenant applicants I could move in. There’s a real benefit to removing concerns about future liability and just the peace of mind knowing that it’s lead safe.”
Lead Abatement Funds Qualifications:
- Properties must be income eligible (earning up to 80% of area median income)
- Have a child under six years of age or a pregnant woman residing in the home
- Homeowner must remain in the home or continue to rent to qualified families for at least three years after work is completed.
Total Funding Available:
- Owner-occupants residing in a single family home may be eligible for up to $20,000 in grant funding.
- Owner-occupants residing in one unit of a 2-4 family dwelling may be eligible for a $20,000, deferred payment, 0% interest loan.
- Investment owners may be eligible for a $13,000, deferred payment, 0% loan.
According to Geraldine McCafferty, Director of Housing for the City of Springfield, “The federal government continues to demonstrate its support for lead paint abatement services for low-income families, and it’s great to be able to share these resources with families in need with the funds the City now has available.”
Lead is a highly toxic metal that may cause a range of health problems, especially in young children. When lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs, like the kidneys, nerves and blood.
Lead may also cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures and in extreme cases, death. Some symptoms of lead poisoning may include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, tiredness and irritability. Children who are lead poisoned may show no symptoms.
Both inside and outside the home, deteriorated lead-paint mixes with household dust and soil and becomes tracked in. Children may become lead poisoned by:
- Putting their hands or other lead-contaminated objects into their mouths,
- Eating paint chips found in homes with peeling or flaking lead-based paint, or
- Playing in lead-contaminated soil
What can you do?
If your home was built before 1978:
- Wipe down flat surfaces, like window sills, with a damp paper towel and throw away the paper towel,
- Mop smooth floors (using a damp mop) weekly to control dust,
- Take off shoes when entering the house
- Vacuum carpets and upholstery to remove dust,
- If possible, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a “higher efficiency” collection bag,
- Pick up loose paint chips carefully with a paper towel and discard in the trash, then wipe the surface clean with a wet paper towel,
- Take precautions to avoid creating lead dust when remodeling, renovating or maintaining your home,
- Test for lead hazards by a lead professional. (Have the soil tested too).
For your child:
- Have your child’s blood lead level tested at age 1 and 2. Children from 3 to 6 years of age should have their blood tested, if they have not been tested before and:
- They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1950,
- They live in or regularly visit a house built before 1978 with on-going or recent renovations or remodeling
- They have a sibling or playmate who has or did have lead poisoning
- Frequently wash your child’s hands and toys to reduce contact with dust,
- Use cold tap water for drinking and cooking
- Avoid using home remedies (such as azarcon, greta, pay-loo-ah, or litargirio) and cosmetics (such as kohl or alkohl) that contain lead
- Certain candies, such as tamarindo candy jam products from Mexico, may contain high levels of lead in the wrapper or stick. Be cautious when providing imported candies to children
- Some tableware, particularly folk terra cotta plates and bowls from Latin America, may contain high levels of lead that can leach into food.
“Lead poisoning leads to long-term health impacts for children and for adults. During the pandemic, many people have started home renovation projects not anticipating that they may be risking exposure to hazardous lead dust,” noted Sarita Hudson, Director of Programs and Development for the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts.