25 Oct ‘Getting the Lead Out’-Moving Towards Safer Regulations
Among all of the dangerous chemicals in our environment, Lead has probably been the most prevalent in recent news. Nearly half a million children between ages 1 and 5 have what is considered an ‘elevated level’ of lead in their blood (at least 5µg/dL). While this may not seem to be that serious, there have been no safe levels of lead established. Some common exposures, most especially for children, happen through lead contaminated water and deteriorated lead-based paint in residential facilities or child occupied facilities built before 1978. All of the recent attention has compelled federal and state organizations to tighten up regulations to prevent our most sensitive populations, primarily young children, from being exposed to this harmful contaminant.
Lead in Drinking Water Regulations
Lead typically enters the drinking water supply via the corrosion that occurs on older lead pipes or pipes soldered with lead containing materials. The chemical composition water passing through lead pipes can either prevent corrosion or allow them to break down leading to lead contaminated drinking water.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that they will announce new standards for lead in drinking water for the first time in 20 years. The 2014 Flint Michigan lead in drinking water crisis has put pressure on the EPA to re-evaluate and the estimated 6 million homes with lead pipes. While lead pipes were banned in 1986, some city service lines contain lead pipes, as do older homes.
In the State of New Jersey, school boards may be moving towards regulations that may require school districts to perform lead in water testing every three (3) years as compared to the current schedule of testing every six (6) years. In addition to these new regulations, New Jersey Schools will be expected to post the results of the testing publicly, in a place that can easily be located by parents and guardians. Currently, 20% of schools through the State do not post the results of lead in water testing.
Lead Based Paint Regulations
Even though lead paint was banned in 1978, if your home was built in the mid-1970s or earlier, there is a chance that it could contain lead based or lead containing paint (even under coats of newer paint). Again, children are at the largest risk, since they naturally chew, put their hands in their mouth and/or play near the painted surfaces most susceptible to breakdown (such as windows and window sills; doors and doorframes; stairs, railings, banisters, and porches).
While the EPA has had lead-based paint regulations in place since 1992, the City of Philadelphia recently proposed a bill aimed at ensuring that children in rental housing aren’t exposed to lead based paint hazards. This new bill, which will go into effect in October of 2020, will require landlords to test all rental units for lead every four years, which strengthens the previous bill passed in 2011 that only required testing of units with families who had children 6 years old or younger.
Only a team of certified professionals that stays current with state, local, and federal regulations and certifications requirements can provide adequate due diligence to ensure assessment of the presence of lead in water or lead-based paint. This includes certifications such as the Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), EPA Certified Lead-Based Paint Inspector, EPA Lead-Based Paint Risk Assessor, and EPA Lead-Based Project Monitor, local and state certifications, as well as intricate knowledge of Federal and State regulations.