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Lead Recalls & Holiday Shopping...

I’m happy to say that the number of recalls due to lead based paint/lead coatings is significantly reduced from a few years ago when there was a toy scare from imports from China.  The bad news is it’s reduced but not eliminated.  I know with Christmas on the way and Black Friday just around the corner, people have holiday shopping on their minds.  Here’s a few things to be leery of, in regards to lead based paint and lead based coatings, when doing your Christmas shopping:

  1. Older toys – some of those toys from 2008 are still floating around.  Not to mention that heirloom toy you get from Grandma & Grandpa.  It might be best kept as an heirloom on a shelf, rather than a toy children actually play with.
  2. Children’s furniture (indoor or outdoor) – this was the most recent recall I saw regarding Lead based paint / lead coatings.
  3. Children’s jewelry and play make-up – these are not necessarily regulated the same way children’s toys are.
  4. Children’s painted clothes – this was another recent recall I saw.
  5. Lead in Christmas lights – This week (after Thanksgiving) is the time everyone is setting up their holiday lights, and many aren’t aware of the potential lead hazards. Here are three links to articles about lead in Christmas lights, in case you were not aware of the issue. (article 1article 2article 3 )
  6. Glazed ceramics from foreign countries – I was astonished when a few years back I bought a licensed cartoon mug from a respected to store only to find out the glazes were lead.  The mug was made in Thailand.  I happen to have an XRF handy for testing, but most people don’t have that privilege.  I now use it as an example in the lead training classes we teach.

It’s a good idea to check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website before hitting the shops this holiday season.

Here’s their website:  www.cpsc.gov
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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.

Violations of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Pain...

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced 16 enforcement actions for violations of the lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP). A priority for EPA’s enforcement program is to protect children, and others, from exposure to lead dust that can cause lead poisoning by ensuring that renovators follow the RRP and other lead rules. Lead exposure can cause a range of adverse health effects, from behavioral disorders and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing.

“At least 4 million households with children have lead paint, and over a half million children have elevated levels of lead in their blood. But lead exposure is preventable when you know what to look for and what to do,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “These settlements serve as an important reminder of the importance of using lead-safe practices to protect the health of our children and prevent lead poisoning.”

The RRP rule requires that contractors that work on pre-1978 dwellings and child-occupied facilities be trained and certified to use lead-safe work practices. This ensures that common renovation and repair activities like sanding, cutting and replacing windows are done in ways that minimize dangerous lead dust. EPA finalized the RRP rule in 2008 and the rule took effect on April 22, 2010.

The enforcement actions listed below address many serious RRP Rule violations that could result in harm to human health. These actions include cases where the respondent failed to follow lead-safe work practices. Lead-safe work practices are critical to reducing exposure to lead-based paint hazards and, thereby, avoiding potential lead poisoning. In at least five actions, children lived at the property; thus, the respondent directly put children at risk of exposure to lead-based paint hazards. Also, in several cases, respondents failed to obtain firm certification prior to performing or offering to perform renovation activities on pre-1978 homes. The RRP Rule’s certification requirements ensure that firms and renovators know the RRP Rule, and how to employ lead-safe work practices. Other alleged violations include the respondent’s failure to provide EPA’s “Renovate Right” pamphlet to homeowners and occupants. The pamphlet is an important mechanism for helping homeowners and tenants understand the risks of lead-based paint hazards, and how best to minimize these risks to protect themselves and their families.

The 16 enforcement actions include 13 administrative settlements and 3 filed administrative complaints. The settlements advance EPA’s mission to protect human health because, under each settlement, the respondent was required to certify that it has come into compliance with the RRP Rule – and compliance results in greater protection for children and others in the future. EPA also assessed civil penalties. When formulating penalties, EPA must evaluate an entity’s ability to pay a penalty and to remain in business. Accordingly, the Agency assessed a total of $53,792 in civil penalties. In the 3 administrative complaints that EPA has filed, the Agency seeks civil penalties up to the statutory maximum of $37,500 per violation.

Settlements:

– Alliance Contracting & Design, LLC of Bay City, Mich.
– Dasa Properties LLC of Buffalo, N. Y.
– DiGiorgi Roofing and Siding, Inc. of Beacon Falls, Conn.
– Exterior Images of Derry, N.H.
– Hometown Painting, Inc. of Warrenville, Ill.

– Kindred Painting, LLC of Dover, N.H.
– Leanza Painting Contractors, Inc. of Morristown, N. J.
– Mac Stringer Painting and Staining of Ontario, N. Y.
– Scheffler Painting, LLC of Trenton, Mich.
– Spartan Painting, Inc. of Haslett, Mich.
– Sunshine Home Improvement, LLC of Lenexa, Kan.
– Universal Remodeling & Building, LLC of Stratford, Conn.
– Wildwood Apartments, LLC of Jackson, Mich.

Complaints:

– Collegiate Entrepreneurs, Inc. of Braintree, Mass.
– PZ Painting of Springfield, N.J.
– Kachina Contractor Solutions of Elkins Park, Penn.

 

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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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RRP Enforcement Begins – Lead Safe, LLC Can ...

EPA Fines Violators of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule

Release Date: 04/05/2012
Contact Information: Stacy Kika, Kika.stacy@epa.gov, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced three enforcement actions for violations of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) and other lead rules. The RRP rule requires the use of lead-safe work practices to ensure that common renovation activities like sanding, cutting and demolition, which can create hazardous lead dust, are conducted properly by trained and certified contractors or individuals. EPA finalized the RRP rule in 2008 and the rule took effect on April 22, 2010.

“Exposure to lead can cause serious health problems and affects our most vulnerable population, our children,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By taking action to enforce lead rules we are protecting people’s health and ensuring that businesses that follow the rules have a level playing field.”

On March 21, 2012, Colin Wentworth, a rental property owner who was responsible for building operation and maintenance, agreed to pay $10,000 to resolve violations of the RRP rule. The complaint alleged that Mr. Wentworth’s workers violated the rule by improperly using power equipment to remove paint from the exterior surface of an 1850’s apartment building he owns in Rockland, Maine. The complaint also alleged that the workers had not received any training under the rule and that Mr. Wentworth had failed to apply for firm certification with the EPA. Because the lead dust had not been properly contained, residents were potentially exposed and the dust could have also contaminated the ground surrounding the apartment building. Two of the four units in the building were rented to recipients of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 8 vouchers and there were at least four children under the age of 18, including one under the age of six, living in the units. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also responded to the alleged violations.

On March 20, 2012, Valiant Home Remodelers, a New Jersey window and siding company, agreed to pay $1,500 to resolve violations from failing to follow the RRP rule during a window and siding replacement project at a home in Edison, N.J. Valiant Home Remodelers failed to contain renovation dust, contain waste, and train workers on lead-safe work practices.

On February 21, 2012, Johnson Sash and Door, a home repair company located in Omaha, Neb., agreed to pay a $5,558 penalty for failing to provide the owners or occupants of housing built prior to 1978 with an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet or to obtain a written acknowledgement prior to commencement of renovation activities at five homes. The complaint also alleged that Johnson failed to obtain initial certification prior to performing renovations at these residences.

As required by the law, a company or individual’s ability to pay a penalty is evaluated and penalties are adjusted accordingly.

These recent actions are part of EPA’s effort to ensure that contractors and individuals follow the RRP requirements and other lead rules to protect people’s health from exposure to lead. Lead exposure can cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing.

More on the settlement: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/tsca/tscaenfstatreq.html

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

 

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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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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 OSHA training emphasizes workers’ rights...

WASHINGTON – “Introduction to OSHA,” a new training component emphasizing workers’ rights, is required content in every OSHA 10- and 30-hour Outreach Training Program class. OSHA developed the information in support of the Secretary of Labor’s goal of strengthening the voice of workers.

This information affects hundreds of thousands of workers who complete Outreach Training Program classes each year, and more than 50,000 authorized OSHA Outreach Trainers. It focuses on the importance of workers’ rights and advises them of their right to

* safe and healthful workplaces
* know about the presence and effects of hazardous chemicals
* review information about injuries and illnesses in their workplaces
* receive training
* request/file for a OSHA inspection and participate in the inspection
* be free from retaliation for exercising their safety and health rights

“For too long workers have avoided making claims of unsafe work conditions out of fear of losing their jobs,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. “We are confident that this new training will embolden workers to speak up when they find work practices that endanger their lives and the lives of their co-workers.”

During the 10- and 30-hour outreach training program classes, OSHA trainers will cover topics on whistle-blower rights and filing a complaint, and will provide samples of a weekly fatality and catastrophe report, material data safety sheet and the OSHA Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. Trainers can obtain test and answer sheets from their authorizing training organization.

The OSHA Outreach Training Program is a voluntary program that seeks to teach workers about their rights and how to identify, reduce, avoid and prevent job-related hazards. The program includes 10- and 30-hour courses in construction, general or maritime industry safety and health hazard recognition and prevention that is taught through a network of OSHA-authorized trainers. Over the past three years, nearly two million students have received training through this program.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Lead Safe LLC offers the 10- and 30-hour OSHA Construction Safety Training Courses. Sign up today.

EPA offers additional time for the RRP Rule....

In this memorandum from Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator from the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, states:

…Since the RRP Rule became effective on April 22, 2010, concerns have been raised by the regulated community regarding difficulties experienced in obtaining the rule required from certification and renovation worker training. Acknowledging those concerns and to facilitate the transition to full implementation of the RRP Rule, EPA will offer additional and sufficient time for renovation firms and workers to obtain the necessary training and certifications to comply as follows:

o Until October 1, 2010, EPA will not take enforcement action for violations of the RRP Rule’s firm certification requirement.
o For violations of the RRP Rule’s renovation worker certification requirement, EPA will not enforce against individual renovation workers if the person has applied to enroll in, or has enrolled in, by not later than September 30, 2010, a certified renovator class to train contractors in practices necessary for compliance with the final rules. Renovators must complete the training by December 31, 2010.

In view of the paramount importance of ensuring that all contractors follow the lead-safe work practices in the RRP rule, EPA will continue to enforce the work practice requirements in the rule which protect children and reduce lead exposure.”

This is big news!

 

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