EPA works to prevent childhood lead poisoning in Vermont
Rutland, Vt. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in coordination with the Vermont Department of Health is beginning an initiative to pro-actively improve compliance with laws that protect children from lead paint poisoning in Vermont. In 2018, 420 Vermont children under age six had an elevated blood lead level.
EPA's lead paint initiative aims to reduce childhood lead exposure through increased awareness and improved compliance with the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule issued under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
EPA will focus its work in Vermont communities located in Bennington, Rutland and Windham counties because they were identified as areas with a higher risk of lead paint exposure due to older housing stock, high rates of renter occupied housing, and mapped data showing elevated blood lead levels.
EPA plans to reach out directly to the local regulated community, which includes construction and property management firms. In fact, EPA just distributed compliance information to over 500 contractors and property managers in these communities. EPA will work to raise awareness and train people on the lead paint rules. To assist with training, EPA developed and will host an hour-long online presentation on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. To register or attend this webinar, go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6451933530649113091
Following these outreach activities, EPA will conduct spot inspections of entities engaged in work involving lead paint renovations. These inspections and any enforcement follow-up will help make sure entities comply with the rules to ensure they are using methods that will prevent exposure to lead paint.
"Reducing exposure to lead is a top priority for EPA," said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "This place-based initiative in Vermont will allow us to work with our state and local counterparts to increase awareness and improve compliance with lead paint renovation laws, therefore, reducing the risk of childhood lead exposure."
EPA prioritizes educating companies and informing the public about federal lead paint rules. EPA's RRP Rule is designed to prevent children's exposure to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards resulting from renovation, repair and painting projects in pre-1978 residences, schools and other buildings where children are present. If lead painted surfaces are to be disturbed at a job site, the rule requires individual renovators to complete an initial 8-hour accredited training course and the company or firm that they work for to be certified by EPA. These baseline requirements are critical to ensuring that companies take responsibility for their employees following proper lead safe work practices by containing and managing lead dust and chips created during such projects. Further, the rule requires that specific records be created and maintained to document compliance with the law.
Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause lifelong impacts including developmental impairment, learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems. Because New England has a lot of older housing stock, lead paint is still frequently present in buildings that were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned.