Andrew Miller works on his home, his training as a
certified lead-dust sampling technician comes in very
put drop cloths down everywhere, have HEPA
(high-efficiency particulate air) filters on all the
vacuum cleaners, and wet wipe every surface to make sure
I have picked up all of the dust," said Miller,
owner of Ally Services, an environmental building and
contracting services firm.
precautions are necessary. In Philadelphia alone, the
Census Bureau’s 2009 American Housing Survey showed,
91.6 percent of residences were built before 1978, the
year that lead in paint was outlawed.
in Flint, Mich., have raised fears about dangerous lead
concentrations in drinking water. But the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention says the most hazardous
sources of exposure for children are deteriorating
lead-based paint and lead dust, on surfaces and in the
air, inhaled or transferred from hand to mouth.
business is part of an industry that tests homes and
apartment buildings for lead, then determines the best
way of dealing with it. Since Flint’s troubles hit the
news, there has been a "300 percent increase"
in lead-related telephone inquiries to his office, he
can you know whether you and your children are exposed
to lead where you live?
blood test can determine lead levels in the body. As for
the home, both the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development and the Environmental Protection Agency
recommend that anyone with a residence built before 1978
just assume that lead paint is present and take special
precautions during even minor repairs.In Pennsylvania,
3.9 million, or about 70 percent, of the state’s 5.8
million housing units were built before 1978, according
to the Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey.
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs puts the
number at more than 2.4 million of that state’s 3.3
million housing units.
24 million U.S. housing units are considered to contain
deteriorated lead paint or elevated levels of
lead-contaminated dust, with more than 4 million of
those dwellings home to one or more children.
particular concern are children under age 6, the CDC
says, because they tend to put their hands or other
objects that may be contaminated with lead dust into
their mouths. Youngsters are especially vulnerable
because their rapidly developing brains and nervous
systems are particularly sensitive to the effects of
lead, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent
Psychology says. Reduced IQ, learning disabilities, and
behavior problems can result.
World Health Organization says lead also causes
long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of
high blood pressure and kidney damage. Exposure of
pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause
miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth
weight, and minor malformations.
of the hazard it poses, reducing or removing lead in a
home — such as by replacing windows whose lead-based
paint has deteriorated — is a job for EPA-certified
professionals only, who must meet training standards and
comply with safe work practices.
and window wells are common sources of lead exposure.
Lead dust is stirred up "when windows are being
raised and lowered as the weather gets warmer,"
HUD and EPA have established standards and protocols for
the identification and removal of lead-based paint.
Companies that violate the work practice, training, or
administrative rules could face fines of up to $37,500 a
day, the EPA says.
and New Jersey have incorporated those regulations into
their statutes and provide lists of licensed certified
testers and contractors who have met federal and state
are four major methods of dealing with residential
lead-paint hazards, the EPA says:
which involves removing a building part containing
lead-based paint and substituting a new one.
which covers the lead-based paint with a solid barrier,
such as drywall.
in which the surface containing lead-based paint is
coated so that it is not accessible.
of the paint, the most expensive of the four.
cost of a typical lead-paint remediation ranges from
$8,000 to $12,000, said Shantae M. Goodloe, a HUD
spokeswoman in Washington.
routine home-improvement efforts have the potential to
increase lead exposure, however.
renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and
demolition can create hazardous lead dust and
chips," the EPA says in its brochure "The
Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right"
(https://goo.gl/LB4TLh). "The key to protecting
yourself and your family during a renovation, repair or
painting job is to use lead-safe work practices such as
containing dust inside the work area, using
dust-minimizing work methods, and conducting a careful
cleanup," the brochure says.
the housing industry and the scientific community agree
that lead paint is a health hazard, both sides have been
vociferous critics of the EPA’s regulations to tackle
including members of the EPA’s own scientific advisory
board, have taken issue especially with safe-level
standards for lead particles in house dust and yards,
which haven’t changed since 2001, said David E.
Jacobs, chief scientist at the National Center for
Healthy Homes in Washington.
need to be revised based on our new knowledge,"
Jacobs, an advisory board member, said recently, noting
that while the regulations have helped reduce blood-lead
levels in 90 percent of the population, "there are
still 530,000 children every year" whose tests
exceed acceptable levels, "and that is too
its part, the housing industry, with the support of
members of Congress, has sought repeatedly to soften EPA
2014 and 2015, legislation was introduced to restore a
rule giving homeowners the right to opt out of the EPA’s
lead renovation, repair, and painting provisions if they
would attest that there were no children or elderly
living on the premises. According to the Congressional
Record, the measure, which died in committee, sought to
require the EPA to approve a test kit that met its own
standards for avoiding false positives.
Cipriani, of Cipriani Builders in Woodbury, N.J., who
remodels many homes constructed before 1978, said,
"We test them to a T. We test the trim, doors,
walls, and ceiling for lead in the areas we will be
working in. If we find lead, we follow strict guidelines
as to how to control dust.
may add about $300 to $500 to the cost of an average
job, as we need to buy and set up a lot of lead-dust
protection, disposable plastic tarps," Cipriani
December 2012, Philadelphia has required property owners
who rent to families with children under age 6 to
certify that those properties have been tested for lead
paint. If evidence of lead-paint contamination is found,
it must be remediated.
lead levels are found in about 1,000 Philadelphia
children a year, or 3 percent of those tested, local
health officials said in hearings when the bill was
introduced in City Council.When contamination is
identified in homes with infants, however, some families
are unwilling to allow remediation, even when it is
free, the 2011 Philadelphia Lead-Free Homes Study,
headed by Cara Campbell of Drexel University’s School
of Public Health, found.
1995, a federal law went into effect requiring every
home seller and landlord to disclose the presence of
"any known lead-based hazards" in residences
built before 1978. Jacobs, of the National Center for
Healthy Homes, said the original version of that law
would have required an inspection, "instead of
simply checking the ‘I don’t know’ box."
EPA distinguishes between inspecting a home, which is a
surface-by-surface investigation to determine whether
there is lead-based paint and its location, and doing a
risk assessment, which determines the presence, type,
severity, and location of lead-based paint hazards, and
ways to control them.
my knowledge, I’ve never heard of a (home-sale) deal
that went bad because of the presence of lead
paint," said Harris Gross, president of Engineers
for Home Inspection in Cherry Hill, N.J., "although
people with children are understandably more cautious
about it, I’ve found."