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Construction Hazardous Materials Compliance GuideLead Detection, Abatement, and Inspection Procedures
By R. Dodge Woodson
Butterworth-HeinemannCopyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLead Basics
Lead is common in older homes and buildings. Any building constructed before 1980 is a likely suspect for containing lead, since lead paint was used for many years before its health risks were fully understood. If young children eat flaking paint—a common problem—that contains lead, the health repercussions can be very serious. Structures with lead-based paint include schools, multifamily housing, single-family homes, and so on. Unfortunately, control, containment, and abatement can be extremely expensive.
Contractors who are bidding renovation and remodeling work must be particularly concerned with the risk of lead paint existing in a structure. Fairly simple tests can be conducted to indentify the presence of lead. This is always a good investment for any contractor before a firm price for a job is committed to.
Government regulations and housing regulations pertaining to lead are strict. Failure to comply with the rules and regulations can result in lawsuits and fines. Basically, contractors cannot afford to take a chance that lead is present when they are remodeling or renovating buildings. See Box 1.1 for some facts about lead.
* HEALTH EFFECTS OF LEAD
Childhood lead poisoning is a major environmental health problem in the United States. See Box 1.2 for an explanation of why children are at higher risk. Everyone can get lead in their bodies if they do any of the following:
Put their hands or other objects covered with lead dust in their mouths
Eat paint chips or soil that contains lead
Breathe in lead dust, especially during renovations that disturb painted surfaces
The danger is highest for children and the effects on them usually occur at lower blood-lead levels than for adults. For examples of the effects that lead can have on adults, see Box 1.3.
Children who have high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:
Damage to the brain and nervous system
Behavior and learning problems, such as hyperactivity
* LEAD REMEDIATION
Beginning April 22, 2010, federal law requires that contractors performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb more than six square feet of paint in homes, childcare facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and trained to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Contractors working with lead are required to be in a lead-safe certified company. Many houses and apartments built before 1978 have paint that contains lead (called lead-based paint). Lead from paint, chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards if not taken care of properly.
Federal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renting or buying pre-1978 housing. Landlords must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before leases take effect. Leases must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint. Property sellers must disclose known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before selling a house. Sales contracts must include a disclosure form about lead-based paint. Buyers have up to 10 days to check for lead hazards.
Lead is a big concern that contractors need to be aware of. The risk of taking lead containment lightly can be extremely expensive for contractors. Imagine the following scenario.
You have just signed a contract to paint a large, two-story house that was built in 1974. The existing paint is peeling and flaking on the siding and the interior paint work is extensive. Being a competitive contractor, you kept your bid as low as possible. Your profit margin is modest, but a profit is a profit.
The homeowner is having the house painted to help sell the house. Your crew arrives and starts sanding the exterior siding and filling cracks in the weathered wood. A different crew is prepping the interior walls, ceilings, and trim for new paint. Your crews are busy working when a home inspector arrives on the site. The homeowners called the inspector in to get advice on a hairline crack in the building's foundation. It isn't long before your phone is ringing with a panicked homeowner on the other end of the phone.
It seems that the inspector noticed the repair work your crews were doing and became concerned. As a trained, experienced inspector, he knew the house was likely to contain lead-based paint. He decides a risk assessment is in order. (See Table 1.1 for an example of available statistics for a risk assessment.) The inspector told the homeowners about his concern for the family, which included two young children, your crews, and neighboring houses that could be affected from blowing dust as the exterior siding was being sanded down to remove the existing paint.
The homeowner requested a lead test from the inspector and called you to stop the work until test results were available. This is terrible news for you. It disrupts your production schedule and could put you on the hook for legal problems and state and government fines. As a result, you stop your crews and start to look into the requirements of working with lead paint. You should have done this long before you put a bid on the job, but you didn't.
After going nuts worrying about the test results, you get the phone call that confirms the worst possible outcome. The paint inside and out is lead paint. You have already created several violations of lead regulations and the homeowners are speaking with an attorney.
See how bad this could get? You need to know the facts about lead if there is any chance you will be working with it.
Where Lead Is Found
In general, the older a building the more likely it has lead-based paint. This is the type of lead that affects most contractors. But, lead can also be found in drinking water, soil, old toys, old furniture, some pottery that has been painted with lead paint, and even in some routine job situations. All of these are a potential concern, but contractors need to be the most concerned about lead paint.
The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978, though some states stopped its use even earlier. Lead can be found in homes in the city, country, or suburbs. It can be in apartments, single-family homes, and both private and public housing, in exterior and interior paintwork.
Lead can also be found in soil. It can come from the soil around a home or other building (though few contractors are affected by this) where it is picked up from exterior paint or from other sources such as past use of leaded gas in cars. Children playing in yards can ingest or inhale lead dust.
Even household dust can contain lead. The dust can pick up lead from deteriorating lead-based paint or from soil tracked into a home. The drinking water for a building could contain lead. A potential reason for this is the use of lead plumbing joints and lead-based solder. Today's plumbers must use lead-free solder, but that was not the case for many years.
A phone call to your local health department or water supplier can direct you to a testing source for lead content. You cannot see, smell, or taste lead, and boiling your water will not get rid of lead.
Buildings served by a water source that may contain lead should be tested. In the meantime, people under these conditions should do the following:
Use only cold water for drinking and cooking.
Run water for 15 to 30 seconds before drinking it, especially if the water has not been used for a few hours.
It is important for those working with lead to shower and change clothes before going home or to another location because it can be brought with you on hands or clothes. Work clothes should be laundered separately from the rest of the family's clothes.
Where Lead Is Likely to Be a Hazard
Lead from paint chips, which you can see, and lead dust, which you can't always see, can be serious hazards. Lead-based paint that is in good shape and has not been disturbed poses less of a problem. However, there is always a risk that the lead paint will be disturbed, especially by children chewing on it. Another major risk is the remodeling or renovation of a building. Hazards are highest under the following conditions:
Peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking lead-based paint is a hazard and needs immediate attention.
Lead-based paint may also be a hazard when found on surfaces that children can chew or that get a lot of wear and tear. These areas include:
– Windows and window sills
– Doors and door frames
– Stairs, railings, and banisters
– Porches and fences
Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded, or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. See Figures 1.1 and 1.2 for examples of likely areas for lead paint to be found. Settled lead dust can reenter the air when people vacuum, sweep, or walk through it. Buildings that use duct work to distribute air conditioning and heat can also spread lead dust.
Lead in soil can be a hazard when children play in bare soil or when people bring soil into the house on their shoes. The National Lead Information Center (NLIC) is a good resource for finding out how to test soil for lead.
* HOW TO DETECT LEAD
Just knowing that a building has lead-based paint may not indicate the level of hazard. You can check buildings for lead content in a couple of ways. A paint inspection can reveal the lead content of every different type of painted surface in a building. However, it won't tell you whether the paint is a hazard or how you should deal with it. A risk assessment will determine if there are any sources of serious lead exposure (such as peeling paint and lead dust). It will also tell you what actions to take to address these hazards.
It's wise to have qualified professionals do the work if lead risks must be addressed. There are standards in place for certifying lead-based paint professionals to ensure the work is done safely, reliably, and effectively. The National Lead Information Center (NLIC) compiles a list of contacts by area.
Trained professionals use a range of methods when checking a building for lead. Some of these methods include:
Visual inspection of paint condition and location
A portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) machine
Lab tests of paint samples
Surface dust tests
Amateur test kits for lead are available, but studies suggest they are not always accurate. These tests should not be relied on before doing renovations or to assure safety. It's wise, and a good investment, to have a professional conduct the testing with specialized equipment.
Contractors may not want to pay for testing before they have secured a job, but there is a workaround. They can make their bid based on the assumption that no negative environmental test results will be determined once the job is awarded and before the work is started. The bid can be worded to allow for an increase in the bid price if professional testing determines that additional work is needed to deal with environmental risks.
What to Do to Protect Occupants While Awaiting Professional Help
There are times when lead contamination is expected or confirmed. Due to scheduling requirements, however, the occupants of a building may have to live with the risk for a while until the contractors can perform their services. If you have a customer with such a situation, there are a few things that can be done to minimize the effects of lead for a short period of time, including the items listed in Box 1.4. Figure 1.3 contains information about the toxicological effects of lead on both children and adults.
* LEARN THE REGULATIONS, RULES, AND LAWS
It is important to learn the regulations, rules, and laws pertaining to working with lead. There is plenty to learn. As a lead contractor, your work will fall under the regulation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and your state's rules and regulations. Compliance with all of these is necessary.
As we explore working with lead in the following pages, you will become familiar with the types of rulings to expect as a lead contractor.
Chapter TwoLead Testing
The determination of lead by rapid methods has become a major concern in recent years since it is apparent that lead poisoning is still occurring when workers remove or otherwise disturb old lead-containing paint in the course of their work. Serious cases of lead poisoning continue to occur in children exposed to old flaking lead-containing paint or lead-contaminated soil. Abatement projects have become a major activity in recent years to remove lead-containing paint and other materials to reduce lead exposure to workers and the general public.
Excerpted from Construction Hazardous Materials Compliance Guide by R. Dodge Woodson Copyright © 2012 by Elsevier Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Butterworth-Heinemann. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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