Helping to raise awareness of the dangers of lead exposure is the goal of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for more than 49 years, by observing National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW), October 24-30, 2010. In light of the new law mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), called Lead Renovation, Repair, Painting Rule (LRRP), this year's efforts are even more worthwhile to encourage consumers to hire lead certified Remodelers when remodeling a home built prior to 1978.
Ada Duffey, CR, CLC of the Milwaukee Lead/Asbestos Information Center, Inc. said that National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a great opportunity to raise awareness on this issue. “It is important that homeowners be educated about lead poisoning so that they take appropriate precautions to protect their children when conducting renovations.”
Duffey explained that precautions include working in a lead safe manner if homeowners choose to conduct their own minor repairs, as well as showing caution when hiring contractors. “Check their lead certification and verify what the contractors will do to contain the lead dust,” she said.
Taking precautions can reduce the number of children with lead exposure and help prevent those who have been exposed from suffering from the adverse health effects caused by lead.
“Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future” is this year’s NLPPW theme, promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and NARI. According to the CDC, childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet an estimated 250,000 U.S. children have elevated blood-lead levels.
Since April 22, 2010, the EPA placed the LRRP rule into effect, and by the end of this year, contractors must go through an eight-hour training to certify at least one person to supervise the renovation of target housing (pre-1978) homes, and the contracting firm must be a Certified Firm with the EPA if they intend to work in pre-1978 homes.
“A lead-certified contractor will be putting down plastic in the work area; taking measures to prevent the spread of dust, such as taking off protective clothing in the work area and putting up plastic in the doorway at the edge of their work area; using a HEPA vacuum; prohibiting the use of dry sweeping; and conducting a thorough cleaning at the end of the job,” Duffey said.
She added, “It is important that homeowners be educated about lead poisoning so that they understand the importance of keeping a well-maintained home.”
To minimize lead exposure, the following checklist is a guide for homeowners living in pre-1978 homes:
• Verify that your contractor's firm is registered with the EPA by visiting the Wisconsin Department of Health Services online at http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/lead/CompanyList.
• Verify at least one person is a Certified Renovator and has documented the training of the work crew and is supervising the work being completed in the home.
• Know that these certifications must be accessible at the work site at all times.
• Firms must post signs before renovation begins, clearly defining the work area and warning occupants and other persons not involved in renovation activities to remain outside of the work area.
• Make sure you understand and sign the EPA's "Renovate Right" brochure.
• Remove all belongings from the immediate area of the renovation.
• Notice if your contractor is using plastic sheeting that is taped six feet beyond the perimeter of surfaces undergoing renovation; reusable cloth coverings are not acceptable.
• Renovators should be cleaning up and mopping daily to minimize dust contamination. “Work practices should include misting the work area down with water and conducting a cleaning verification at the end of the project to ensure the lead dust has been cleaned up,” Duffey said.
• Contractors must use HEPA vacuums and/or wet mopping to remove lead particles.
• All contaminated materials should be placed in heavy duty plastic bags before your contractor disposes of them.
“Peeling paint and window dust, especially around windows, can easily cause lead exposures to children,” Duffey said. “Also, if children visit a home that has been improperly remodeled, they can be exposed to lead dust.”
Homeowners who wish to learn more about testing a child’s lead levels, testing a home for lead, or preventing health effects related to lead exposure can visit http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/nlppw.htm. “Lead exposure for homeowners living in pre-1978 homes can be minimized by using a professional contractor, rather than doing the work themselves,” Duffey said.
The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI – the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 875 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.
For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI’s Remodeling Guide,” call 414-771-4071 or visit the Council’s Web site at www.milwaukeenari.org.
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