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Lead is a heavy, bluish-gray metal that occurs naturally in the Earth's crust. Lead was used regularly in a number of industries including paint, piping solder, and, until the 1980's, in gasoline. Most of these sources are now banned, but many old buildings still have lead in them. In fact, almost 90% of Boston's housing was built before 1978 and it often contains lead-based paint and lead service lines. 

When lead paint is disturbed or removed, it can cause lead poisoning. In addition, lead service lines in contact with water can lead to exposure through drinking water. Lead poisoning is a serious but preventable disease that affects the development of a child, and can cause speech, hearing, learning, and behavior problems. The U.S. EPA and CDC report that lead paint (and the contaminated dust and soil it generates) is the leading source of lead exposure for children. There is no way to eliminate all lead exposure because lead is so common in the environment, but children's lead exposures have been reduced to a very low level where there is a very low risk of harm.

What We Do

BPHC's Lead Program offers the following services:

  • Trainings for property owners and their agents on performing moderate risk deleading to bring their residence into compliance with the Massachusetts Lead Law.
  • Trainings for lead abatement contractors on how to properly contain lead when renovating.
  • Case management, home visits, and connection to services for families​ with children who are less than 6 years of age who have been screened for lead or tested positive for lead poisoning.
  • Outreach and presentations provid​ed to organizations (such as community health centers, neighborhood groups, women and infant organizations, child care or day care centers, healthy head start organizations, hospitals, schools, etc.) and high risk neighborhoods.​

If you have any questions about lead, you can contact the Environmental Health Office at (617)534-5965 or email us at​

Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: