Sea Glass

Sea Glass

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Get the Lead Out

Lead is a neurotoxin and even in very small dosages it can be a very dangerous substance. It’s right up there with mercury as far as bad stuff to have in us and it is especially damaging to children under age six whose bodies are still developing. Lead can cause nervous system damage, stunted growth, and delayed development. It can cause kidney damage and affects every organ system of the body. It also is dangerous to adults, and can cause reproductive problems for both men and women. It’s also been linked to ADHD. I do remember my brother chewing on the door casing, come to think of it.

Anyway, the ban on lead paint started in 1897 when Australian doctors discovered that there was a connection between lead paint and childhood illnesses when they noticed that children who were eating lead paint from porch railings were getting sick. This conclusion led European countries, such as France, Belgium, Austria and Great Britain, to ban lead-based paint in the early 1900s.

“Lead” paint was banned in US homes in 1978 by the Consumer products Safety Commission somewhat after our European neighbors got the lead out. At one time, the majority of homes in the US had lead based paints at their interiors and especially exteriors, as lead was (is) an excellent additive for durability. Less and less lead paint was used as we progress through the 1900’s until it’s removal from the marketplace in 1978.

A very small amount of lead, even a gram or less, can be very dangerous. One myth related to lead-based paint is that the most common cause of poisoning was eating leaded paint chips, like my brother. In fact, the most common pathway of childhood lead exposure is through ingestion of lead dust through normal hand-to-mouth contact during which kids swallow lead dust dislodged from deteriorated paint or leaded dust generated during remodeling or painting.

Like it or not, the EPA has taken a very strong step towards controlling the presence of lead “dust” in construction projects. Owners of houses built before 1978 or contractors who work on such homes should pay special attention. Supposedly, on or after April 22, 2010, companies working on pre-1978 homes as well as child-occupied facilities must be certified and use lead-safe work practices during any renovations.

The rule applies to remodeling projects that disturb more than six square feet of painted surfaces inside, or 20 square feet outside, of residential structures built before 1978. It requires that the contractor and certain subcontractors be certified to work with lead-based paint under the EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP), and follow specific "lead-safe work practices" to prevent lead exposure to humans. That includes testing for the presence of lead-based paint in the work area.

The rule does not apply to homeowners working on their own houses. If one is a contractor who is not certified, they can be fined $37,000 per day per rule violation. The EPA licenses certain organizations, such as local building organizations, to administer training and certification courses to become a Certified Renovator.

Jeff Good
Benchmark General Contractors, Inc.

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