March 15, 2017

Mass. receives an F on lead pipe disclosures

Massachusetts received a failing grade in a new national report assessing lead pipe disclosure policies in the states.

The Environmental Defense Fund report released Tuesday said a limited disclosure policy in Massachusetts "does not require the seller to disclose knowledge of defects on the property or environmental hazards generally to potential buyers." Disclosure represents "a critical step for communities in the state to build inventories and initiate programs for full lead service line replacement," the report said.

The report assessed whether disclosure policies enable buyers to make informed decisions about lead service lines - the underground lines that connect water mains to homes and buildings - before they sign sales contracts.

"Parents go to great lengths when buying a home to ensure that their kids are in the best schools, in a safe neighborhood, and safe from traffic," said Tom Neltner, the Environmental Defense Fund's chemicals policy director. "Yet, many have no idea that the home's drinking water could put their child at risk. Buyers deserve to know if their home has lead service lines before they sign on the dotted line."

Three states received A- grades - Connecticut, Delaware and New York - while 12 received failing grades, eight received a D, and 27 states and the District of Columbia fell somewhere in between. The Environmental Defense Fund estimates lead service lines are in place at between 6 and 10 million homes in the U.S.

Several states that received failing grades enforce "buyer beware" clauses that put the responsibility on the buyer to investigate potential defects on a property, the report said.

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