Lead Testing Alabaster AL
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Scientists and medical professionals have long known that high levels of lead in children's bloodstreams will hinder their cognitive development, but nobody has ever really known how high or low those levels had to be for the effects to be apparent.
New research is showing that levels far below what doctors have considered dangerous in the past may put children - as well as adults and pets - at risk. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester, Cornell University and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center traced more than 200 children for six years and discovered something interesting: Lead's effect on intelligence was strongest at the lowest end of the scale. This means that very small amounts of lead have a proportionally greater effect on cognitive abilities. This study is prompting an advisory committee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reconsider its standards, most likely cutting the acceptable blood-lead levels for children in half.
If the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, influences the national guidelines to that extent, the effects will be enormous. Current CDC guidelines recommend intervention when blood-lead levels exceed 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood.
About 900,000 U.S. children have blood-lead levels exceeding that level. If the panel lowers the blood-lead level by half, then millions more could be added to the risk list. The most common source of lead exposure is from paint chips that are often in the form of very small dust particles, and most homes built before 1978 (the year lead paint was banned) contain lead paint. The new guidelines would dramatically raise the number of homes considered to contain hazardous levels of lead. Surveys by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimate that in 2000, more than 38 million homes had lead paint, and 25 million had hazardous conditions. Children under the age of six lived in 5.6 million of those homes considered hazardous. "The new data means that there's a lot more houses out there that are hazardous than previously thought, and there's a lot more kids out there seriously affected by lead than we thought," says Nick Farr, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing.
Industry response to this research has been quick and fierce. Doe Run Resources Corp. is the nation's leading lead smelter, and they have been buying homes surrounding its smelter in Herculaneum, Mo., after they have been found to be hazardous under current standards. "It's a very small group of scientists who have this opinion. Lead is on the periodic chart and cannot be eliminated or brought to zero," says Doe Run President Barbara Shepard. The paint industry is currently fighting several lawsuits brought against it by several states and cities seeking potential multimillion-dollar settlements. One such suit in Rhode Island recently ended in a mistrial after the jury declared it was hopelessly deadlocked.
The state was trying to hold eight former lead-paint manufacturers liable for lead poisoning in 35,000 Rhode Island children since 1993. The jury agreed that lead paint was a hazard, but couldn't agree on the magnitude of the threat. The state's attorney general has stated they are ready to try the case again very soon. During that trial, Bruce P. Lanphear, an epidemiologist at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, testified that "all lead paint is a potential hazard." When a lawyer for the paint manufacturers read an Environmental Protection Agency document that said the agency does not believe that intact paint can generate significant amounts of lead-containing dust, Lanphear responded simply, "I don't agree." The government estimates that making homes with lead in them safe would cost about $18 billion for temporary fixes to $160 billion for a permanent solution. They also estimate the benefits in terms of avoided medical care costs at between $112 billion to $377 billion.For more information on lead risks and resources, visit these websites:
Centers for Disease Control www.cdc.gov
The National Lead Service Providers' Listing System www.leadlisting.org
Home lead testing www.hometest.com
National Institutes of Health www.nih.gov
National Center for Healthy Housing www.centerforhealthyhousing.org
Environmental Protection Agency www.epa.gov
How to Legally Remove Lead
So far, only a small percentage of remodeling contractors have been certified and the threat of large fines and work stoppage looms over the projects of those ignoring the new rules. And if a company in violation flies under the radar of building officials, they are still subject to the grim possibility of civil lawsuits by the owner or occupants. Even if a remodeling job is in progress before April 22nd, the RRP rule and its requirements will still take effect that day.
The new procedures deal with indoor jobs that disturb six square feet or more of wall area, exterior jobs that disturb 20 square feet or more, and any work with windows. So some replacement and repair work won't require a CR on staff, but for jobs that do, contractors will need to up their bids to pay for the extra work required. The additional duties start with testing for lead. If no lead is found, you may proceed as usual, but if lead is detected, your work is subject to the rules of how old paint may be removed, how to deal with debris, and the requirements of warning signage and occupant notification.
In brief, after the occupants sign off that they have been educated about the dangers, the work area must be sheeted off from the rest of the building to contain dust. Thorough cleaning and waste disposal procedures are a big part of the new rules, and after cleaning, more lead testing must be performed.
Attribution: We are a design / build remodeling firm in NC and served the area since 1995. Kuhlmann & Sons Construction, LLC
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