The New RRP Lead Safety Rule – Myth, Mania or Material Risk

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Many of our students enter the new EPA Lead Paint Certification classes skeptical of the real risks that might be involved in working on lead-based paint contaminated renovations. After all, US regulations discontinued its sale after 1978. Students question whether the new regulations will merely hinder their ability to get the job done.

While contamination levels have dropped since the 1960’s, the CDC estimates that approximately 250,000 U.S. children aged 1-5 years have blood lead levels greater than 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, the level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated. The Ohio ABLES Registry reports that 14% of adults age 16-80 tested for elevated lead levels had levels greater than 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. Elevated contamination levels were most likely to be reported for individuals in the age range of 40-64. It is assumed that this greater risk is due to the fact that these individuals are more likely to be working fulltime, thus increasing their risk of exposure.

Continued long term exposure to lead causes serious damage to the nervous system, kidneys and reproductive systems in adults as well as children. Developing children, especially under the age of six, can be permanently affected by lead exposure, as it results in severe physical and mental developmental problems.

Much like Asbestos and second-hand smoke, lead dust is an insidious contaminant that is not easily detected nor easily eliminated from the body by normal processes. Given that lead dust is portable and can easily contaminate ventilation systems, vehicles and worker’s clothing, the risk for spreading contamination beyond the work-site is considerable. When we consider the potential risks generated by lead abate processes, the EPA’s contractor guidelines for lead abatement safety, containment and protective gear are meaningful and necessary to both the health of homeowners as well as lead abatement workers, their coworkers and their own families. To learn more about the guidelines and learn how to get the lead out right, visit the EPA’s RRP Lead Safety website http://www.epa.gov/. If you are interested in learning more about the curriculum and exam necessary for lead paint certification contact Lead Paint Removal Training for more information.

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