DESCRIPTION OF THE STRATEGY
Supplementing weatherization and housing rehab activities in high-risk housing to include targeted lead hazard control activities is an effective, low-cost strategy to address lead hazards in the home and expand the rehab and weatherization crews’ knowledge of lead safety. St. Paul (MN) has enhanced standard weatherization efforts with low cost window-focused lead hazard control steps in pre-1978 residential units housing a child under age six. Similar initiatives are underway in California, Indiana, Montana, and Washington.
These efforts offer enormous potential to bring primary prevention to low-income families in older homes whose children are at high risk for lead poisoning. The direct result can be the repair/control of lead hazards before a child is poisoned.
Efforts to proactively fix lead hazards have a significant public health benefit. Repairing windows in older homes undergoing weatherization will reduce lead hazards to children in those homes. Similar efforts to integrate lead into existing rehabilitation programs help reduce exposure to deteriorated lead paint and friction surfaces on windows, both of which are lead hazards.
These collaborations bring an increased awareness of lead hazards to weatherization and rehab programs. This affects the work that they do even when they are not actively controlling a lead hazard and can result in more attention to lead safe work practices. For example, the MN project which requires dust clearance testing after window treatment work to address lead hazards has helped instill in the contractors the importance of controlling, containing, and cleaning lead dust so that they can pass clearance. Skills and lessons learned about controlling lead dust increase workers’ understanding of what it takes to minimize lead dust in jobs where clearance may not be required (e.g., a weatherization or other job with window replacement).
Scope of Potential Impact
City - or - County - Wide
Specific (Targeted) Population
Community Action Agency
Community Development Corporations
Weatherization and Housing Rehab Contractors and Workers
The resources required are somewhat related to the scale of the project. In a city or county, an existing weatherization program could partner with a lead hazard control program and, with a percentage of a full time employee’s time, structure a project to target weatherization units for lead hazard control. If a broader effort is envisioned to add a lead hazard control element to statewide weatherization or rehab programs, a more substantial commitment of staff resources and funding would be needed.
Other resource requirements:
The weatherization program would need equipment and trained personnel to conduct lead inspections and/or risk assessments (to confirm the presence of lead based paint) and perform dust clearance testing. They would also need access to trained and qualified contractors to perform the work.
Typically it is not necessary to change laws or regulations to integrate the delivery of weatherization and lead hazard control services. The main capacity issue is the availability of qualified personnel to perform the hazard assessments (or measure lead content in paint), complete the work following lead safety standards, and conduct clearance tests. Weatherization and rehab programs can have their existing crews perform lead hazard reduction provided they are properly qualified. For abatement projects, workers and contractors must be trained and certified. Except in a few states, training in lead-safe work practices is sufficient qualification for most non-abatement projects. Certified lead inspectors, risk assessors and—in some states—sampling technicians can perform the dust clearance testing after the work is completed.
Leveraging other programs’ work in homes to tackle lead hazards is generally cost effective. Weatherization and rehab programs already bear the costs of identifying housing units appropriate for their programs and their eligibility criteria are consistent with risk indicators for lead hazards (homes built before 1950; low income families). Expanded programs can therefore offer lead hazard control, building upon existing efforts to enroll units and fix other problems, many of which may also be contributing to lead hazards, such as plumbing leaks, holes in the exterior walls or roof, and poor insulation resulting in condensation and water damage. In some cases it may be appropriate to purchase XRF machines to help identify homes where lead hazard control is not needed.
If funding is available to support the lead hazard control interventions, approximately 6-12 months is needed to launch such a program. If funding is not reliable, then a more substantial commitment of staff resources and time may be need to structure the appropriate partnerships.
Moderate. Implementation can hinge on the availability of dedicated funds to support the added lead work. Weatherization and publicly supported rehab programs generally have production targets that provide disincentives to increasing the costs in individual units. There may also be restrictions on spending the program’s funds for actions not directly related to the program’s mission (e.g., non-energy based repairs are ineligible for weatherization funding, except that in some states up to 10% can be spent on “health and safety” repairs). A key to implementation therefore is locating funds that can be used for lead work and securing a commitment from the state and local housing and weatherization program managers that this supplemental work is a valuable complement to their central mission.
Lack of support from the key energy or housing agency staff and/or the local or state lead program can hinder efforts. Funding for added lead work must be secured.