SAN FRANCISCO (Jan. 8, 2012) – Got plans to renovate an old home? Convert an older structure – a dilapidated shed for example – into a child’s playhouse? Whether you do it yourself or engage the services of a licensed contractor, the US Environmental Protection Agency recommends knowing the facts about childhood lead poisoning, as well as the new EPA requirements for contractors working on structures built prior to 1978.
For decades lead poisoning has been one of the most critical environmental health threats to American children. Despite efforts to eradicate it, one million children still suffer from health effects related to lead-based dust. As part of efforts to permanently safeguard children and others against this risk, on April 22, 2008, the US EPA issued the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule.
The LRRP requires professionals involved in “projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools be certified by EPA and that they use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers to follow lead-safe work practices.” April 22, 2010 was the EPA deadline for renovation contractors to be trained in safe lead-handling and disposure procedures to obtain the new EPA lead-safe certification.
While the EPA reports success in promoting its lead-safe certification to contractors – 750,000 across the nation trained so far – getting the message across to the public has been problematic for several reasons. Finances and ignorance of the new requirement being apparently the two main ones: EPA lead-safe certified contractors report losing bids to untrained contractors, EPA officials report.
Following up on massive outreach in 2010 and 2011 to contractors, states, counties, municipalities, childcare centers and other similar agencies, the EPA focus this year will be on school districts and the public at large. It will use billboards, public service announcements and other media to let “people know lead-based paint is dangerous to kids, especially those below the age of 6,” Nancy Kain, Regional Lead Coordinator (Region 9 EPA San Francisco) says. “People need to hire someone who is certified by the EPA.”
Most important, Kain adds, all EPA lead-safe certified contractors are required to provide the lead hazard information pamphlet Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools to homeowners, childcare center owners, occupants of childcare facilities and to parents and guardians of children under age six who attend childcare facilities built prior to 1978.
“Long-term, we hope to see the blood lead levels in children decrease,” Kain replies when asked about measurements of success. “We can’t see that yet, because it’s too soon. What’s really important is letting the public know the danger of disturbing lead-based paint in pre-1978 structures. They need to hire someone who is certified to protect themselves and their family.”
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