Many of us think that lead based paint (LBP) and lead poisoning are something from our parents or grandparents generation. However, each year in the U.S. more than 300,000 kids are diagnosed with elevated lead blood levels. It is true that we banned LBP in 1978 for use in residential homes, but prior to 1978 it was used in MILLIONS of homes nationwide, many of which are still lived in and occupied today. This is why the EPA implemented the Lead Renovation Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) in 2009.
Why is lead so dangerous to children?
Lead can affect the development of many organs, especially the brain. The primary exposure route for children is ingestion, often from LBP that has been reduced to dust. There are numerous ways LBP can be reduced to dust including aging, rubbing, and damage/disturbance caused during demolition and renovation. Testing has shown that general renovation activities including demolition, sanding, scraping, grinding and cutting can result in very high lead exposures.
What rules are in place to protect children?
The RRP rule mandates that all contractors that work in ANY home or child occupied facility constructed prior to 1978 work for a certified firm and that they are individually certified in RRP or have received on the job training from a certified renovator. RRP also establishes requirements for testing surfaces for LBP prior to disturbance; and requires containment for interior and exterior work, pre-renovation notification of occupants, and record keeping.
Having taught the RRP class for approximately 5 years and working with homeowners, I have observed real resistance to the RRP rule and to this day, nearly 8 years after implementation, there are still many contractors and homeowners who have never heard of RRP. I also hear both the contractors and the homeowners complaining about the added time and cost associated with following the rule. However, I have to say many of these gripes are unfounded.
What does the RRP process look like?
Typically the process includes the following steps: (1) test the surface, (2) record the results, (3) hand a pamphlet to the home owner, (4) contain the work area, (5) do the work, (6) clean the work area, (7) confirm it’s clean, and (8) keep records for three years.
While there are projects that may warrant additional steps, the general RRP process really isn’t that burdensome. And when it comes down to reducing the number of kids diagnosed with lead poisoning each year, the few added steps are well worth protection of our children.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact the RRP experts at EMI at 907-272-9336.
Written by Glenn Hasburgh, Environmental Scientist/H&S Instructor