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Lead-Based Paint Hazards: Understanding and Managing the Impacts of Lead-Based Paint

posted 01.07.2020

Federal statistics show that more than 75 percent of the housing stock in the U.S. contains lead-based paint.

Federal statistics show that more than 75 percent of the housing stock in the U.S. contains lead-based paint.

 

The U.S. government banned lead-based paint more than 40 years ago, but it’s still prevalent. According to government statistics, more than 75 percent of the housing stock in the U.S. contains lead-based paint. Such statistics for commercial facilities are not readily available, but any facility built before 1978 is at risk of containing lead-based paint. Exposure can cause real and lasting health problems, including: permanent brain and organ damage, reduced intelligence, behavioral problems, and abnormal fetal development. Currently an estimated 1.7 million children in the U.S. have high blood lead levels.

DID YOU KNOW?
Lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning. (source: US EPA)

Disturbance of lead-based paint is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The EPA’s lead renovation, repair, and painting (RRP) program covers a wide range of contractors that disturb paint in pre-1978 housing or facilities occupied by children under age six. These requirements cover any disturbance of lead-based paint in areas greater than 6 square feet indoors or 20 square feet outdoors.

Exposure to lead-based paint can cause serious health issues, including reduced intelligence, behavioral problems, abnormal fetal development, and permanent brain and organ damage

Exposure to lead-based paint can cause serious health issues, including reduced intelligence, behavioral problems, abnormal fetal development, and permanent brain and organ damage

 

Terracon helps a variety of clients manage issues with lead-based paint. For example, we serve as the lead-based paint consultant for Nebraska’s two largest school districts. Terracon’s Omaha, Neb., office has assessed more than 130 schools for lead-based paint and other lead hazards.

If lead-based paint is found at your facility, there are multiple options for addressing the hazard. If the paint is in good condition, you may be able to establish a program to maintain it in place. If the paint is in bad condition, options include interim controls, permanent coverings, abatement, or replacement of the painted surfaces. Compliance is key when renovating sites that contain this hazardous material.

Terracon provides a full range of lead consulting, testing, and training services including lead RRP training, a pathway to becoming “lead certified.” Terracon’s environmental consultants have assisted hundreds of clients by investigating and testing sites, determining risk, providing advice, solutions, recommendations, and helping to reduce liability.

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Tony Tozser, CHMM, CIEC is an industrial hygienist and environmental consultant for Terracon’s Omaha office. With more than 12 years of experience, he is a certified asbestos inspector, lead-based paint inspector, indoor environmental consultant, and hazardous materials manager.

 

Steve Hudson, MS, CIH, CIEC, is a senior industrial scientist in Terracon’s Omaha office. He has conducted over 4,000 assessments of commercial, industrial, and residential structures for the purpose of identifying and evaluating environmental safety and health hazards.