It’s estimated that roughly 87% of homes that were built before 1940 contain lead-based paint. Compound that number with the 67% of homes built between 1940-1959 and the 24% of homes built between 1960-177 — and you have a staggering number of residences with lead contamination issues still present in the United States.
Millions of homeowners are in danger of lead exposure. Lead flakes, chips, and dust can be a serious contamination problem, which can lead to some fairly devastating symptoms for both children and adults. Lead can be found in a wide range of products and locations. However, for residential and commercial structures, the primary suspect is in lead-based paint.
Where Can Lead Be Found?
Unfortunately, we can find lead in a wide variety of places. Older homes and buildings have a far greater chance of lead issues, as they are more likely to have lead-based paint. When disturbed, whether through weathering, crumbling, cracking, or simply over-use (windows, banisters, etc.) lead can break off and become a contamination hazard — especially for children. Lead exposure in children can cause serious developmental delays, along with physiological concerns. In residential or commercial structures, lead is notably an issue for:
- Window frames
- Window sills
- Door frames
Areas that receive a lot of traffic or movement are more likely to pose a threat, as they are more likely to disturb lead paint over time and cause exposure. Dust, either in the home or outside, can be ingested — therefore causing exposure and illness. Lead in soil or your yard can be an issue as well. Exterior lead-based paint, either on the home or porch, can wear away over time.
Another problematic location for lead-based materials is in plumbing, which can cause lead contamination in water sources. Over time, corrosion can cause lead-based plumbing materials to wear away, subsequently exposing water sources to dangerous levels of this toxic material.
If you’re interested in residential lead safety tips, check out our article “How to Make Your Home Lead Safe” for more information.
Lead Risks and Contamination Concerns
Lead exposure can have both short-term and long-term effects on the mind and body. Children are especially susceptible to lead contamination; however, that doesn’t mean that they are the only victims of lead exposure. Adults, particularly those with pre-existing conditions, are also high-risk.
Developmental delays, weight loss, fatigue, seizures, vomiting, nausea, and hearing loss are just a few of the many problems children may face from lead contamination.
Adults could develop joint and muscle pain, mood disorders, memory difficulties, high blood pressure, and even pregnancy complications such as miscarriages.
If you’re interested in learning more about lead risks and contamination concerns, take a look at our article: “Common Risks Associated With Lead Poisoning.”
Compliance Standards and Enforcement Procedures
Construction or renovation contractors must provide all occupants of a building with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) information regarding the risks of lead and lead contamination. The EPA is responsible for the guidelines and compliance standards that building owners and contractors must abide by to keep occupants safe from lead exposure.
These compliance standards are also in place to protect workers. Anytime a worker is going to be handling lead-based materials, a trained and certified individual must be present on-site anytime that work is being done. Most of the time, contract firms decide to certify and train all of their project leaders and project managers. It’s a common practice that helps contractors refrain from EPA penalties regarding lead-based materials and workers.
The EPA typically gets involved whenever an occupant gets sick following a project, and are contacted regarding an investigation into the cause of the illness. These investigations can be grueling and tiresome. They can also be costly. EPA Lead Paint Certifications for those supervisors or workers on-site can help eliminate the chance of these expensive penalties. Fines of up to $37,500 per day, per infraction, may be issued if there were not proper certifications on the worksite during the project.
Who Needs Lead Certifications and Training?
That’s a great question, one that has a few answers. The EPA has undergone many changes and has developed a wide range of lead paint certification courses that only accredited training providers are able to teach and issue out to contractors.
There are a few categories that lead certifications can fall under:
· Lead risk assessor
· Lead inspector
· Lead renovator
· Lead dust sampling technician
· Lead abatement
Lead risk assessor certifications are for individuals that need to conduct lead-hazard investigation and control activities. Lead risk assessor certification and training give permission to investigate the nature, existence, severity, and location of lead-based paint hazards.
Lead inspector certifications are for individuals that conduct surface by surface investigations to determine the presence and location of lead-based paint in residential, child occupied, commercial, and industrial structures. Lead inspector certifications are required to conduct surface by surface investigations.
Lead renovator certifications are required for contractors and property managers that want to protect their clients, firm, and employees. A lead renovator certification ensures that you’re compliant with the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule.
Lead dust sampling technician certifications are required for individuals that conduct non-abatement lead dust clearance testing work, which is usually done after an RRP job. Lead dust sampling technician certification is required by HUD for most renovation projects.
What About Lead Abatement?
Lead abatement has a few different certifications that pertain to certain individuals depending on their duties. Lead abatement refers to the process of removing or properly sealing lead-based materials. If you’re interested in learning more about abatement processes and how it differs from other lead removal work — take a look at our article: Abatement vs. Remediation.
For now, let’s identify some of the lead abatement certifications needed to complete lead abatement work.
Get the Training You Need Today
Completing projects where lead-based materials may be present requires strict compliance with the EPA’s guidelines. It’s important for building owners and contractors to be aware of these compliance standards — along with accessible training options for their employees to keep everyone safe.
Whether it be during inspection, renovation, or repair — lead can cause harmful exposure and costly penalties down the road.