DESCRIPTION OF THE STRATEGY
Banning unsafe work practices and requiring basic safeguards for remodeling and paint repair work are key to preventing childhood lead poisoning in older housing. Banning unsafe methods of removing paint will sharply reduce the amount of lead contaminated dust that would otherwise be generated. The unsafe methods that should be prohibited include: dry sanding or scraping; open flame burning; operating a heat gun above 1,100 degrees; machine sanding without a HEPA attachment; and stripping in poorly ventilated areas using volatile strippers on surfaces containing lead-based paint. Requiring precautions such as work area containment and careful post-work cleaning will prevent the dispersal of any lead-contaminated dust that might be generated. When coupled with occupant protection activities, adherence to lead-safe work practices for routine remodeling and repair work can help prevent children’s exposure to lead dust hazards.
Homes that are being remodeled, repaired, or repainted are less likely to pose lead dust hazards if contractors refrain from unsafe work methods that generate lead dust and follow basic precautions while performing work that disturbs paint in older homes.
Following lead-safe work practices will materially reduce risks to children living in older homes that are undergoing repairs or renovation. In many areas, such as New England, up to 20% of lead poisoning cases can be attributed to unsafe remodeling or renovation activities.
A requirement for using lead-safe work practices would also reduce exposure of workers, and potentially their children, to dangerous levels of lead dust.
Scope of Potential Impact
City - or - County - Wide
Housing/Community Development Agency
Remodeling and Renovation Contractors
Health and Housing Department staff, supported by community and advocacy organizations, would have to devote time to inform legislative efforts to enact lead-safe work practices requirements.
Other resource requirements:
To foster contractor and worker capacity and increase compliance, public agencies should offer free or low-cost training in lead-safe work practices, adapting state-of-the-art curriculum (notably the 5.5 hour training course developed by HUD and EPA in 2003) to cover any additional state or local requirements. Training facilities, such as community colleges and vocational technical programs, should also be encouraged to offer training in lead-safe work practices.
Because some banned work practices, such as machine sanding, reduce labor time in surface preparation, painting contractors and their clients would bear marginal increased costs.
Developing and implementing systems to train remodeling contractors, painters, and maintenance workers will take time.
Moderate. Training to build lead safety capacity can start before requirements are in place. Health department leadership will accelerate acceptance and enactment of lead-safe work practices requirements. Substantial support from community and advocacy organizations will help. Property owner and contractor associations should be asked to participate in developing the statute, ordinance, or code amendment to offset their likely opposition. Compliance will grow over time, because most contractors are law-abiding or interested in avoiding legal liability and are responsive to consumer awareness and demand for lead safety. Success is more likely in areas with a relatively high incidence of lead poisoning and broad public awareness.
The main obstacles are likely to be the opposition of property owners and contractors to enactment of requirements for lead-safe work practices.