Prior to 1978, pigments and additives in consumer paints were allowed to contain lead. Last April the EPA established rules regarding lead abatement in homes built before 1978. However the new rules were not widely publicized or were largely ignored.
But in this state last month, the EPA agreed to hand off enforcement to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), and they plan to make sure you hear about the new regulations. Here are some highlights of the EPA Renovate, Repair & Paint Rule.
Since April 22, 2010, anyone working in a pre-1978 home or child-occupied facility must now be certified and use lead-safe work practices during any renovation that might disturb as little as two square feet of painted surface.
The new rule is important because, according to the CDC, lead poisoning is the number one preventable childhood disease in the US. The real target of the rule is the dust created during traditional renovations and repairs in older homes. If that dust contains lead-based paint, it is poisonous.
Here's the problem: It is difficult to see the dust. It is almost impossible to sweep it up, and it travels. Paint chips and debris become dust, the dust sticks to the soles of shoes, and workmen routinely track that dust all over the inside and outside of a house.
A single pink packet of artificial sweetener contains exactly one gram of powder. If that powder were paint dust, and that paint were at a typical pre-1940 concentration of five percent lead by weight, that one gram would be enough paint dust to contaminate a typical 1,250 square foot home.
Children under six and pregnant women are most at risk from exposure to even small amounts of leaded dust. Complications can include low birth weight, decreased intelligence, reading and learning difficulties and hyperactivity. And worse yet, the damage can be irreversible, affecting children throughout their lives.
The RRP rule asks contractors to do three important things to help prevent the spread of dust:
1. Don't make a mess.
2. If you do make a mess, make it in as small an area as possible.
3. Clean it up very thoroughly.
The Georgia EPD will be working with EPA accredited trainers to make available the required one-day class that teaches contractors and others the facts they need to know to save kids lives. In truth, the rule primarily involves using more plastic sheeting and more duct tape, and both of those supplies are cheap.
Any price is small when it can save the lives and health of children.
For a detailed video on this new law, please visit www.epa.gov/lead.