American builders need to get lead aware

Despite almost 30 years of effort to reduce the risk of American children being exposed to lead, over a million are still being poisoned by paint containing the toxic metal every year.

Although lead-based paint is no longer on shop shelves, poisonous dust is often let loose when renovation and refurbishment is carried out in older homes.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is running a campaign to encourage builders to take a one-day training course making them aware of the risks – and how to reduce them.

The campaign concludes next Thursday, April 22, by when the agency expects more than 125,000 contractors to have taken the course with accredited trainers.

Exposure to lead in childhood can result in a wide range of health problems, from brain damage and reduced IQ to behavioural disorders.

“There has been tremendous progress by people working in the construction and remodeling trades to become trained in lead-safe work practices,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances.

“EPA has been working hard to get the word out far and wide to contractors working in older homes, schools and day care centers that this training is available to help stop lead poisoning in children.

“All a contractor needs to do to be certified is take a simple one-day course.”

The courses will continue after the campaign deadline, with almost 200 organisations registered to carry out the certified training across the United States.

The EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP) rule, brought in in 2008, requires contractors to become trained and certified as lead-safe by EPA.

Individuals take an eight-hour training course offered by private training providers to become a certified renovator.

Certification is valid for five years.

David Gibbs

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