Lead regs to protect children

Firms that renovate or repair housing, childcare facilities or schools will have to follow new rules to protect children from exposure to lead.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is publishing stricter regulations for builders, plumbers, painters and electricians working on buildings constructed before 1978.

Under the rules, workers must follow better safety standards to reduce potential exposure to dangerous levels of lead-based paint.

The Lead: Renovation, Repair and Paining Program rules, which comes into force in April 2010, includes new requirements for certification and training for contractors and professionals working in pre-1978 houses and schools.

An extensive education campaign will also be held to promote awareness of the changed rules.

James Gulliford, EPA’s assistant administrator for prevention, pesticides and toxic substances, said: “Childhood lead poisoning is a preventable disease.

“EPA’s new rule requires contractors and maintenance workers who renovate and repair older housing, child care facilities and schools to follow common sense lead-safe work practices so that children are not exposed to hazardous lead dust.

“By requiring renovators to be certified, we’re also helping consumers identify contractors who are trained in lead-safe work practices.

“Our goal is to eliminate childhood lead poisoning as a major health concern by the year 2010.”

The rule covers all rental and non-rental housing where children under six and pregnant mothers, as well as school and childcare facilities, and will apply to renovations, repairs or painting that disturbs more than six square feet of lead-based paint.

Use of lead in paint was banned for residential use in 1978 because of the health effects on both children and adults, but almost 38m homes in the US still contain some lead-based paint.

Children under six are most at risk because their nervous systems are more vulnerable to lead’s effects and they are more likely to ingest lead.

More information on the regulations can be found here.

Kate Martin

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