: Lead was often added to paint in the past, given the many important features that the addition offers when including it with a various range of products. However, in 1977 lead paint was banned in residential house paint, as its damaging effects on the human body became more generally known.
Although the paint was originally banned in residential housing more than 40 years ago, the EPA still estimates that millions of homes contain the material that becomes harmful when the paint deteriorates and it turns into dust.
To limit the devastating effects of the rapidly deteriorating old paint that is still located in many old homes, the EPA introduced extensive legislation in 2008, requiring testing and certification when contractors perform work on these old homes, and the rules were later updated in 2010.
Along with the EPA’s latest announcement on June 17, 2020, Check4Lead, a specialty lead paint test distributor is planning a major campaign to bring the important issue to the attention of American families, given the vast health complications it leads to every single year.
Lead poisoning is a disease that shows its horrible symptoms when lead accumulates in the body, and is especially unkind to young, developing minds. The symptoms can either show themselves as acute symptoms, arising from the extensive exposure of the material. Among children, high exposure and ingestion of the material may lead to brain damage, development delays and learning disabilities. Seizures, hearing loss and irritability are also among some of the slightly less severe symptoms.
When pregnant women are exposed to the material, it may cause the baby to be born prematurely with a lower-than-usual weight. As the material accumulates in the body over time, these symptoms are irreversible, why it is so important to adequately address them.
While the symptoms are very similar for adults, they may initially seem less severe, and include high blood pressure, joint and muscle pain, memory loss, or concentration issues, headaches and mood swings. Getting pregnant may additionally be harder for men that have exposed to the heavy metal as reduced sperm count is an issue, and for women miscarriage and stillbirth become more likely.
With lead being massively regulated as a consequence of its residential paint ban in 1977, one of the biggest exposures to the material was substantially lowered. However, it wasn’t until 1992 that the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 was passed, which lowered the amount of lead permissible in paint to 0.5%, that consumers were additionally safeguarded against the material.
Despite being banned in residential housing since 1977, it wasn’t until 2008 that the EPA started requiring extensive testing with one of two nationwide, approved test kits, that the testing and documentation became required. And subsequently, it was also required that homes testing positive for lead paint would be required to have the home improvement done by licensed contractors.
Although a quick Google search may reveal various products claiming that they test for the presence of lead, only 3M’s LeadCheck swabs, and D-Lead’s lead paint testing kits have been approved for official documentation. Both of these products are carried and sold by Check4Lead.
The campaign intended by Check4Lead is two-fold – it intends on ensuring that homeowners have the necessary information in order to require the necessary protection and documentation to ensure that the exposure is minimized, and that everyone stays safe.
From the contractors’ point of view, being informed about the massive fines that come with non-compliance will hopefully help instill a sense of necessity regarding compliance.
“Within the last year or so, we have seen massive action across the country coming from both the EPA, but also local government councils requiring additional action,” says Thomas Jepsen, CEO of Check4Lead, “it is more often the lower-income communities that suffer the most from health crisis like this one as they are more likely to live in government provided housing that has often been built before the ban was initiated.”
“Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, has taken substantial measures in helping limit the residents of the city to the damaging effects of the material. At Check4Lead, we sincerely believe that we are in for a roller coaster of initiatives across the country, when we get out of these turbulent Covid-19 times,” Thomas Jepsen continued.
Bill de Blasio signed additional laws in the beginning of February 2020 that would start going after landlords, whereas contractors have traditionally been the ones that would get fined heavily whenever the rules weren’t being followed.
A failure to comply with RRP regulations have led to significant fines being handed out by the EPA to businesses and contractors that weren’t testing adequately and ensuring that the necessary certifications had been obtained to do the necessary work. Perhaps most notably, the HGTV’s Fixer Upper hosts, Chip and Joanna Gaines were fined $40,000 over violations of the regulation.
“The signing of the relevant legislation that targets landlords marks a change in strategy for dealing with lead paint. You can say that the previous approach shared a lot of similarity with the top-down approach, in that the responsibility for compliance was essentially put on the contractors, who would incur more costs by having to follow the rules, often competing with other contractors that were perhaps less likely to follow the rules, meaning compliance would eat into their already slim profit margins. Rather than have it be enforced by the contractors, going after the landlords means that contractors will in fact benefit from a more level playing field, given that landlords are more inclined to necessitate proper procedure during home renovations.”
While the focus in NYC may lately have been to shift their focus, Check4Lead still believes that contractors should be afraid of getting fined. The latest suggested changes in legislation could mean that lead abatement jobs would have to be redone if the limits are changed, and it is Check4Lead’s belief that the legislation in NYC and other places will simply tighten, and that the EPA is getting ready for another round of enforcements when things calm down slightly.
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