Saturday event aimed at lead poisoning problem

While the number of childhood lead poisoning cases has greatly reduced in Massachusetts - from 772 in 2003 to 460 last year - hundreds of Boston youths remain at risk. Neighborhoods such as Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury and Hyde Park carry the highest percentages of illnesses. The housing stock, older homes with heavy concentrations of lead paint particles, is the chief culprit.

Fighting tolower the numbers further, Mayor Thomas Menino will join neighborhood organizations such as Angie's List on Saturday, Nov. 3 to host a day long Lead Safe Awareness Community Fair at the First Parish Church from 9 a.m.- 2p.m..

Families, tenants and property owners are invited to attend the event, where they will find various resources to educate them on how to provide safe homes for their loved ones. A four-hour educational course for contractors and painters will also be featured. Home inspectors and contractors will be available to consult with attendees on deleading process and what to look for in neighborhood histories. Members of the Boston Public Health Commission will also be available for instant testing of toys and products.

Ryan Torres, executive director of Lead Action Collaborative, says the aim to provide resources to low income families with limited access adequate healthcare.

"Many of these families are forced to choose affordable over safety," said Torres. "They do not always know their rights as tenants and therefore not given what they deserve both legally and ethically."

"We are targeting lead in Boston's high risk neighborhoods," said Torres. "It is important to educate the public about the responsibilities of landlords and the rights of tenants. This fair is a step in empowering our city."

The city of Boston currently offers programs to help assist families with limited resources. Lead Safe Boston offers grants up to $8,500 per apartment for de-leading if tenants meet income guidelines. Get the Lead Out offers 0 percent deferred loans for de-leading projects. There are also free classes available such as Moderate Risk Deleading Training offered to tenants, property owners and agents to educate them on bringing their homes into compliance with Massachusetts's laws.

For more information, contact Ryan Torres at 617-279-2289 or via e-mail