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EPA Mails a Postcard to Uncertified Renovation Con...

As you know, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule became effective in 2010. Since that time, well over 100,000 firms have been lead-safe certified by EPA, and an additional 20,000 have been certified in twelve authorized states. Approximately 450,000 renovators have been trained by accredited training providers in lead-safe work practices. However, EPA recognizes that too many firms are still operating without the required certification, are not following lead-safe work practices and may be putting children and others at risk for lead exposure.

In November 2012, EPA announced 16 enforcement actions for violations of the RRP rule and EPA continues to conduct compliance monitoring inspections and outreach to protect children, and others, from exposure to lead dust that can cause lead poisoning. To increase lead safety and awareness of the regulation, on January 9, EPA began mailing a postcard to uncertified renovation contractors in target areas, including states that lack an EPA-authorized RRP program and have significant amounts of older housing. EPA’s goal is to remind these contractors of their obligation to become certified. In addition, EPA wants to level the playing field for those contractors who are already certified.

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EPA has specifically targeted uncertified contractors for this mailing and made best efforts to exclude certified contractors. However, a small number of these postcards may inadvertently reach already-certified contractors. If your clients (already-certified firms) alert you that they have received this postcard, please convey EPA’s appreciation for their attention to this regulation and for their efforts to protect their clients and your community. They may disregard it or pass it on to their competitors who are not certified.

EPA Postcard Sent to Uncertified Contractors.

EPA Postcard Sent to Uncertified Contractors.

Confused about abatement vs. RRP?...

Confused about abatement vs. RRP?

Lead-based paint inspection, risk assessment and abatement services are regulated differently than renovation, repair and painting jobs, even though, in some cases, the activities are similar.

  • Lead abatement projects are designed to permanently eliminate existing lead-based paint hazards, and may be ordered by a state or local government in response to a lead-poisoned child or other reason. Only trained and certified individuals may perform lead abatement.
  • Renovation, repair and painting (RRP) projects are typically performed at the option of the property owner for aesthetic or other reasons, or as an interim control to minimize lead issues. It is not designed to permanently address lead-based paint. However, RRP projects can disturb lead-based paint in homes and buildings built before 1978 and cause lead hazards, even when none existed before. Therefore, they are also regulated and require certification. If you are seeking information on EPA’s rules requiring lead-safe renovation, repair and painting to prevent lead hazards see EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Program page.

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National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2012...

Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future

Today, childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet approximately half a million U.S. children have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the reference level at which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends public health actions be initiated. A simple blood test can prevent permanent damage that will last a lifetime. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), CDC, is committed to eliminating this burden to public health.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW)
CDC and HHS share the goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning in the United States. NLPPW occurs every year during the last full week in October (Senate. Resolution 199). During NLPPW, CDC aims to

  • Raise awareness about lead poisoning;
  • Stress the importance of screening the highest risk children younger than 6 years of age (preferably by ages 1 and 2) if they have not been tested yet;
  • Highlight partners’ efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning; and
  • Urge people to take steps to reduce lead exposure.

During NLPPW, many states and communities offer free blood-lead testing and conduct various education and awareness events. For more information about NLPPW activities in your area, please contact your state or local health department.

Every year, CDC, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), develops posters in observance of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW). The posters are free for downloading by states and communities. We also developed a NLPPW Campaign Toolkit to encourage information-sharing, collaboration, and promotion of NLPPW and lead poisoning prevention in general.

 

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Preparing For An Audit...

Preparing for Grant Audit

The past couple of weeks we have been helping a client prepare for an audit. It’s not an EPA audit, it’s a State audit of a CDBG grant. However, this started me thinking about how truly unprepared some people, companies and municipalities must be when it comes to audits. We have not gone through one of the State’s, but have gone through other audits, including the EPA. Despite this, and trying to cross our T’s and dot our i’s, it’s still a little unnerving.

So just how do you prepare for an audit? Take a deep breath. If you have been trying to follow the regulations, you shouldn’t have a problem. The first thing to do is find out what you’re being audited for. Is it for a specific time frame? Is it for a specific project or is this a general records audit?

 

Set Up the Appointment

DO NOT BLOW OFF SETTING UP A DATE FOR THE AUDIT. DO NOT BLOW OFF THE AUDIT. The audit will not go away. Put on your big girl or big boy pants and deal with it like an adult. Blowing off setting up the audit or blowing off the audit completely will not bode well for you and then you will be forced to have the audit at their convenience. If that happens they will be a lot less likely to work with you. They are rational people. They do understand about people’s schedules and time constraints. If you sincerely cannot make the first appointment that is suggested to you, it’s ok to say, “I’m not available that day, but I’m available the rest of the week.” Make a suggestion as to time frames that will work with your schedule. That will go over better than saying, “I’m not available,” and not addressing it any further.

 

Get Records in Order

Next step, get your records in order. Neatness counts! Regardless of what governing body may be auditing you, audits go more smoothly if your files are in order. Often times, there is a check list that has created of the files the entity expects you to have. An example is the EPA Renovator, there is a checklist at the end of module 7 in the manual. Follow the list. In an ideal world, all the paperwork will be in a folder for each case. We all know, the world is not ideal. DO NOT FABRICATE ANY MISSING PAPERWORK. Do try to find and / or complete any missing paperwork for you cases. DO NOT FABRICATE PEOPLE’S SIGNATURES OR FALSIFY LABORATORY RESULTS. This will create a whole new ugly situation which will lead to months if not years of investigation. Your work and your life will be under a microscope. Do try to find a rational explanation for why the paperwork is missing or not filled out completely.

Make sure that your certification(s) and the company’s certification(s) and license(s) are current.

 

Day of the Audit

The day of the audit, stay calm. I know it’s so much easier to say than do. One of my colleagues says, ‘Audits go easier with muffins & cookies.” There’s some truth to that. You don’t need to run out and buy muffins and cookies for the audit. However, maintaining composed during the audit, answering their questions, asking questions when you don’t understand what’s being asked of you is key. If your mindset is antagonistic from the get go, it makes the audit that much more stressful for everyone.

You may politely disagree with an auditor. For example, a few members of Lead Safe, LLC have their EPA lead supervisor certificates. The first time we were audited, in 2000, by the EPA, they asked to see a lead abatement report. My colleague told them, “We don’t do abatement.” They asked again. He repeated, “We don’t do abatement. We’re a consulting firm. We have lead supervisors for writing job specs.” (At the time it was acceptable to have a lead supervisor certificate for writing job specs.) That was sufficient to clear up the disagreement.

 

During the Audit

During the audit, answer the questions that are asked and supply the paperwork that is asked for – nothing more. It sounds simple enough. The idea is that you do not want to open yourself up to further scrutiny. Also, idle conversation or lengthy presentations only hinder the progress of the audit. It wastes everyone’s time and makes the audit drag on. Remain courteous and polite, it doesn’t have to be all yes or no answers, but they don’t want to hear endless stories about how something went hopelessly wrong on a case. This may open you up to further investigation as well. Be honest!

Believe it or not, those auditors aren’t there to give you a hard time. They don’t groove on finding mistakes. Oftentimes, it’s more paperwork for them if they do find mistakes. Take criticisms constructively. If they have information to give you to help you, take it. Again try to keep a pleasant demeanor.

 

Call Lead Safe, LLC.

Still nervous about being audited? You can call Lead Safe, LLC, Phone: 315-471-3210 or visit our website. Lead Safe, LLC provides a service were we can help you go over your files and what to expect in an audit.

 

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Holiday Season and Lead in Childrens Toys...

It’s been a few years now since we had the massive recalls of toys because of lead. I can remember, a few years back, walking around a big box store with a Dora the Explorer doll in my hands for a friend’s daughter. I saw the checkout lines and knew I’d be late for my next appointment if I waited in line to buy her. I put the doll back and went off to my job. Little did I know at that time that the doll would be recalled less than a week later. Her face was painted on with lead containing paint! I was never so relieved. Can you imagine an environmental consultant buying a toy for a child that had lead paint! It goes to show you that it can even happen to the experts.

I’m glad to say the US seems to have gotten a tighter rein on imports, especially on imported toys, but you should still be cautious. Holiday movies showing antique toys always look impressive, but it’s those antique toys that may contain lead based paint. That doesn’t mean you need to throw them out, but you may want to keep grandpa’s old toy fire engine on a shelf away from little hands for admiration instead of play.

Also, used toys or toys purchased at thrift shops can be a big problem. Make sure to check the CPSC’s website (Consumer Product Safety Commission, www.cspc.gov) BEFORE purchasing toys at a thrift shop or second-hand store. Toys that were construed as being “too much of a hassle” to return may have very easily found their way to thrift stores. Often these stores do not allow you to return merchandise. The same goes for buying toys at garage sales or church bazaars.

If you’re not sure about some of the toys your child is playing with, there are some simple measures that can be taken as precautions. First, make sure your child washes his or her hands before eating. Secondly, if possible wash the toys in hot soapy water at regular intervals. Check the CPSC website to see if your child’s toy has been recalled. If a toy is recalled, remove it from your child’s environment immediately. If the recalled toy has been gnawed on or if you’ve seen your child mouthing the toy, have your child’s blood lead check. Also you can call a certified lead professional to test your child’s toys with an XRF (x-ray fluorescence – a non-destructive means of testing for lead based paint.) Keep in mind there is usually a fee for this service.

Some links to check out:
www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/toys.htm – Center of disease control tips pertaining to toys with lead
www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prerel.html – Consumer Product Safety Commission recall list

 

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National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2010...

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is coming up next month, October 24-30, 2010. I didn’t know. It wasn’t obvious. In fact, you may consider it one of the government’s best kept secrets, although they shouldn’t be keeping it a secret at all. I had to specifically Google “National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, 2010” to find it. I think that this is a terrific idea. However, the concept falls short in their advertising. The EPA’s website has one paragraph regarding the Week and links to the CDC and HUD. The government expects you to download their poster and post it! The links to CDC and HUD don’t even mention the National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

Considering the purpose of the Week is to “educate parents and children about the dangerous health effects of lead exposure,” the government is definitely missing its target audience. The thing is having a week to make people aware that lead poisoning is still an ongoing problem in the United States is a good idea. Approximately 250,000 children ages 1-5 have elevated blood lead levels in the United States today. Elevated blood lead levels can lead to stomach ache, poor appetite, and irritability which is often confused with other illnesses. Higher levels of lead exposure have been linked to ADHD. Very severe lead exposure (blood lead levels greater than 80 ug/dL) can cause neurological damage, convulsions, coma, and even death. The long-term effects of elevated blood lead levels in children often includes slow development, reduced IQ, learning disabilities, hearing loss, reduced height and hyperactivity. The effects of lead based paint exposure are permanent.

Simple measures can be taken to help prevent childhood lead poisoning. These include keeping the home clean, eating a good diet, and washing hands. Adults can check the home for potential danger areas, looking for flaking paint, crumbling plaster, indoor dust and outdoor dirt that may have lead in it. A lead inspection or lead based paint risk assessment can be performed by a certified professional to find out where lead and potential problems may be. Any peeling paint should be addressed and the paint chips cleaned with a wet disposable cloth (paper towel). Children should not be present when cleaning up paint chips. Dust should be kept to a minimum by damp mopping and using a wet cloth to clean walls, window sills, and other surfaces. Children’s toys should also be cleaned to eliminate the potential for lead dust to collect on the toys and then have the child put the toy in their mouth.

I wouldn’t be following due diligence if I didn’t give you a link to the EPA regarding the National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week! Here it is:

http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/lppw2010.htm

Please also check with your local county health department to see what they are doing for National Lead Poisoning Prevent Week.2010 National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

 

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New RRP Rule – Press Release from EPA...

Press Release from EPA

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is marking National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week by announcing several actions the agency proposes to take to prevent lead poisoning. Lead poisoning may cause a variety of adverse health effects, including brain and nervous system disorders, high blood pressure, and hypertension. Children six years old and under are most at risk.

EPA has issued a proposed rule to expand the coverage of the 2008 Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. The new rule proposes to eliminate a provision that exempted some housing from the rule’s requirement that contractors be trained and certified and use lead-safe work practices when renovating, repairing or painting a pre-1978 home.

“This proposed rule will further increase protections for children and their families from lead-based paint hazards associated with home renovation and repair, “ said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. “The administration is demonstrating its continued commitment to eliminating childhood lead poisoning and strengthening lead poisoning-prevention efforts with the announcement of these actions during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.’
worker
The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978. However, if a home was built before 1978, it has a higher likelihood of containing lead-based paint. The 2008 rule requires contractors working in pre-1978 housing where children under six or pregnant women reside take the proper precautions to work lead-safe work, including minimizing the dust, containing the work area, and conducting a thorough cleanup to reduce the potential exposure associated with disturbing lead-based paint. This rule would expand such requirements to cover most pre-1978 homes.

EPA also announced that it will propose to modify the regulatory hazard standard for lead in dust so that it is based on the most recent science. The agency also will work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to propose to modify the regulatory definition of lead-based paint. The National Center for Healthy Housing and several other citizens groups had petitioned the agency on these issues, making the point that current standards are outdated.

EPA will take comment on the proposal for 30 days and expects to finalize the rule by April 2010.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/lead

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Misconceptions Regarding Lead Paint Hazards...

I’ve been in the environmental industry for 15 years now. I took my first class regarding lead based paint in 1995. Despite this, I can’t convince my mother and my sister that it’s not just children that get lead poisoned and lead poisoning can occur in other ways than eating paint chips. My mom and my sister are rather intelligent people. My mom has a bachelor’s degree in history and my sister has a PhD in biophysics. However, it goes to show how strong the stereotypes and misconceptions are regarding lead.

The first misconception is that “only children get lead poisoned.” This is absolutely false. The one main difference between a child or an adult getting lead poisoned is the amount of lead it takes. Children are considered to have elevated blood leads if their blood lead levels are 5 ug/dl. For adults the amount is 40 ug/dl. Lead is the most dangerous in children under the age of 7 years because their brains are still developing. Lead poisoning in small children can cause permanent brain damage. In many other ways lead affects adults the same way it does children.

The second misconception is that “you can only get lead poisoned by eating paint chips.” This is absolutely false. Unless a child or adult has pica, a condition in which someone eats non-food items, children are usually exposed by “second hand” contact. For example, a cat sits in a window well that has paint chips and dust in it and regularly sleeps with the child; a window is left open and blows the paint chips and dust onto children’s toys or clothes; children play with their toys near a door where paint chips and dust have accumulated. The dust gets on their toys which then gets on the child’s hands. With adults, exposure is usually through hobbies or occupation.

The last misconception is that “lead only occurs in paint.” The term “lead based paint” is somewhat of a misnomer. Lead can occur in any coating including primers, varnish, stains, shellacs, etc. I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked on a job site, “Why are you testing that? It’s not painted,” while I was testing something stained. Indeed, I’ve found lead in primers, varnish, stains and shellac.

Get your home tested for lead today!

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How to Become an EPA Certified Renovator...

There are two ways to become a certified Renovator (Renovation, Remodeling and Painting or EPA RRP
Lead Safe LLC, is accredited to provide this course as well as the Renovator Refresher course. Upon successful completion of the course, students are issued their EPA certificate that is valid for 5 years. To maintain certification, a student must take a refresher course PRIOR to their expiration date or they must take the 8-hour initial course.

The other way a person could get certified is by taking a refresher based on being “grandfathered” in to the system because they have successfully completed training in EPA approved courses. The refresher course is shorter (4 hours) than the initial course but the student is required to provide proof of eligibility prior to enrolling in this course. A copy of the successful completion certificate from the eligible course is required

Eligibility Requirements for Refresher Training.

Individuals who successfully completed one of the following training courses before October 4, 2011, may choose to take the EPA four-hour renovation refresher course in lieu of the initial renovator training course to become a certified renovator.

* Abatement worker or supervisor course accredited by EPA, or an EPA authorized State or Tribal program
* Joint EPA-HUD Lead Safety for Remodeling, Repair and Painting, 2003 (EPA 747-B-03-001).
* EPA Model Training Course Minimizing Lead-Based Paint Hazards During Renovation, Remodeling, and Painting, 2000 (EPA 747-B-00-005).
* HUD Addressing Lead-Based Paint Hazards During Renovation, Remodeling and Rehabilitation in Federally Owned and Assisted Housing Course.
* HUD Lead-Based Paint Training for Remodelers and Renovators Course.
* State of Connecticut Lead-Safe Work Practices for Painting, Remodeling, and Maintenance Course.
* State of Maine Lead-Smart Renovation (a.k.a. Lead-Safe Renovator) Course.
* Commonwealth of Massachusetts Lead-Safe Renovator Worker and Supervisor Course.
* State of Wisconsin Lead Low-Risk Worker Course.
* Craven County, NC, Lead-Safe Work Practices Course.
* Baker Lead-Safe Work Practices Training.
* Connor Interim Controls/Lead-Safe Work Practices and Awareness Manual.
* NESHTA Lead-Based Paint Maintenance Training: Work Smart, Work Wet, Work Clean to Work Lead-Safe.
* Occupational Knowledge Interim Controls/Lead-Safe Work Practices and Awareness Training.

To schedule a class visit the Lead Safe LLC website. For more information on EPA lead training requirements visit EPA.

What’s the Difference Between a Lead Inspect...

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