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Porches an overlooked lead hazard

By | Feb 24, 2015

A new study in the journal Environmental Health indicates that porches in older homes can be a significant source of lead dust and that housing regulations – which have been instrumental in lower rates of lead poisoning in recent years – need to be adapted to meet this threat to children’s health.

“This study shows that porches are an important potential source of exposure for children,” said Katrina Korfmacher, Ph.D. director of the Community Outreach and Engagement Core of the University of Rochester Medical Center Environmental Health Sciences Center and a co-author of the study. “It is becoming clear that porch dust lead can be effectively reduced through repairs, cleaning, and maintenance.”

Lead is a neurotoxin and has significant health, learning, and behavioral effects, even at levels previously thought to be safe. While federal, state, and municipal laws have contributed to a significant decline in the overall levels of childhood , rates remain high in some communities, particularly low income urban areas with older rental housing. An estimated 19 percent of homes in the U.S. contain hazards; this number rises to 35 percent in the homes of individuals below the poverty line. In Rochester, where the study was conducted, more than 86 percent of the housing stock was constructed prior to the ban on lead paint in 1978.

Some local communities, including Rochester, have adopted ordinances that require owners and landlords to take steps to ensure that the interiors of rental properties are “lead safe.” However, in many instances these requirements stop at the front door and do not cover exterior spaces and structures such as porches. No communities have standards limiting the amount of lead in dust on porches, because there is no federal standard and there has been limited evidence that mitigating lead hazards in these instances is feasible.

Porches hold the potential to be a source of lead hazards for young children, either from being tracked or blown into the house or through direct exposure. This is especially true in urban neighborhoods where porches often serve as the “front yard” where children play.

The new study was a partnership between the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH), the University of Rochester Medical Center, the City of Rochester, and Action for a Better Community, a Rochester-based non-profit organization.

The researchers sampled lead paint levels on porches at 79 homes in Rochester that had recently undergone lead abatement. Before work began, the researchers found that porch floor dust lead levels were nearly four times greater than dust lead levels on interior floors. When dust lead levels were higher on the porches, lead dust levels were also higher on the interiors of homes. After the porches were replaced or repainted, the porch dust lead levels significantly declined, indicating that the hazard can be effectively addressed by property owners.

The study also found that when interiors were treated for lead paint but no work was done on the exterior, the porch dust rose immediately after work, most likely from workers tracking dust and debris onto the porches. These findings appear to indicate that steps taken to make the interior of homes more “lead safe” may inadvertently be causing the porches to become more hazardous.

“Without a porch standard, no one was held accountable for cleaning porches after interior renovations,” said lead author Jonathan Wilson, Acting Director of NCHH. “Lead on porches should be addressed and standards for porch lead dust must be adopted to protect children from inadequate clean-up.”

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Bridge Coating Firm Fined for Lead

By | Feb 20, 2015

A Florida-based industrial coatings contractor is facing $58,800 in federal fines after receiving 13 serious citations alleging excessive lead exposures during abrasive blasting.

Atlas Steel Coatings Inc. president Louis Alfieri said Tuesday (Jan. 27) that his company would contest the citations and fines announced Monday (Jan. 26) by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“Our tests concluded that at no time on the project, were Atlas employees exposed at or above the PEL,”Alfieri said. “Our tests also concluded that no employee’s blood lead level came close to the PEL before, during, or after blasting on the project.”

OSHA inspected the site, the Philema Road Bridge in Albany, GA, on July 23 in response to a complaint about conditions there.

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OSHA is alleging a variety of serious lead hazards on a bridge rehab project in Albany, GA.

Atlas Steel is rehabbing the bridge, according to OSHA. No other project information was immediately available.

13 Citations

The 13 serious citations allege a variety of lead-related hazards, including:

  • Failure to monitor or determine lead exposures for employees conducting abrasive blasting lead-based paint inside containment;
  • Insufficient or no respiratory protection for workers who were cleaning up lead-containing abrasive blasting residue and moving the contaminated containment enclosure;
  • Lack of carbon monoxide monitoring for respirators used during abrasive blasting;
  • Lack of a written respiratory protection program;
  • Lack of medical evaluations for bridge painters;
  • Lack of personal protective equipment, including clothing, safety glasses, helmets and gloves, for workers doing abrasive blasting and cleaning up blasting residue;
  • Not providing a change area, separate eating area, showers or washing facilities for employees abrasive blasting lead paint;
  • Not requiring employees who wear their own PPE to remove it before leaving the site;
  • Lack of lead training for abrasive blasters and employees doing lead removal; and
  • Lack of engineering controls and vacuuming in abrasive blasting containment.

Other-than-serious citations allege failure to conduct forklift training and failure to notify workers in writing of their blood lead test results within five days.

Serious violations reflect life-threatening hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Taking Lead Home

“This employer not only exposed its workers to unsafe levels of lead but it also failed to take any precautions required to prevent workers from transferring lead contamination to their homes or families,” said Robert Vazzi, director of OSHA’s Savannah Area Office.

“OSHA holds employers accountable for correcting conditions that threaten worker safety and health.”

Privately owned and headquartered in Brooksville, FL, Atlas Coatings provides a range of surface preparation techniques and coatings services for Gulf Coast tank farms, power plants, process plants, petrochemical refineries and transportation agencies

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Lead-tainted toys seized at Port of Savannah

By | Jan 28, 2015

SAV Little Digger2 LOW


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WJCL) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations at the Port of Savannah seized over 1,000 children’s toys due to high amounts of lead paint.

The CBP office seized 1,320 Wel-Bilt Little Diggers, a child’s backhoe-like digger found in some sandy playgrounds. The merchandise had an estimated sell value of over $38,000.

The merchandise arrived into the Port of Savannah on Oct. 28, 2014 directly from east Asia. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requested that CBP officers examine the shipment. During that examination, preliminary field tests on the samples found the toys to contain unacceptable levels of lead paint.

Samples were shipped to the CPSC laboratory, which confirmed the dangerous levels of lead paint.

Working with CPSC investigators, CBP officers seized the shipment under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.

“The seizure of these extremely dangerous imported toys illustrates how the tremendous teamwork and cooperation between the Consumer Product Safety Commission and U.S. Customs and Border Protection protects the American public from potentially serious health and safety issues,” said Lisa Beth Brown, the CBP Port Director for the area port of Savannah.

Effective enforcement of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act prevents harmful products from entering the country and it protects children from injury and death.

CBP at the Port of Savannah continues to work with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and other agencies to combat the illegal importation of unsafe goods that pose significant health and safety risk to the American public.

Consumers should call CPSC’s toll-free hotline at 800-638-2772 or visit CPSC’s website to report dangerous products or to learn about product recall information.

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EPA Seeks Comments on Lead-Based Paint Program Revisions

By | Jan 22, 2015
For All concerned with RRP, NOW is the time to make some improvements to the law.

SUMMARY: EPA is proposing minor revisions to the Lead Renovation, 
Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule that published in the Federal Register 
on April 22, 2008, and the Lead-based Paint (LBP) Activities rule that 
published in the Federal Register on August 29, 1996. The proposed 
revisions are intended to improve the day-to-day function of these 
programs by reducing burdens to industry and the EPA, and by clarifying 
language for training providers, while retaining the protections 
provided by the original rules. EPA is proposing to eliminate the 
requirement that the renovator refresher training have a hands-on 
component. The Agency is also proposing to remove jurisdiction-specific 
certification and accreditation requirements under the LBP Activities 
program. Currently, this program requires that training providers, 
firms and individuals seek certification in each jurisdiction (e.g., a 
State) where the organization or person wants to work. In addition, EPA 
is adding clarifying language to the requirements for training 
providers under both the RRP and LBP Activities programs.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before February 13, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by docket identification 
(ID) number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2014-0304, by one of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Do not submit 
electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business 
Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted 
by statute.
     Mail: Document Control Office (7407M), Office of Pollution 
Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 
Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001.
     Hand Delivery: To make special arrangements for hand 
delivery or delivery of boxed information, please follow the 
instructions at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/contacts.html. Additional 
instructions on commenting or visiting the docket, along with more 
information about dockets generally, is available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical information contact: 
Marc Edmonds, National Program Chemicals Division (7404T), Office of 
Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 
Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: 
(202) 566-0758; email address: edmonds.marc@epa.gov.
    For general information contact: The TSCA-Hotline, ABVI-Goodwill, 
422 South Clinton Ave., Rochester, NY 14620; telephone number: (202) 
554-1404; email address: TSCA-Hotline@epa.gov.

The Full Test can be found here; http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-01-14/html/2015-00473.htm


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EPA may loosen lead-based paint regs

By | Jan 14, 2015

The Environmental Protection Agency is looking to ease certain lead-based paint regulations, the agency said Tuesday.

The training requirements for contractors who renovate homes that are filled with lead-based paint would be loosened under proposed rules published by the EPA in the Federal Register.

Home renovators seeking recertification would no longer be required to go through more intensive hands-on training to learn how to safely test for, remove, dispose of, and clean up after lead-based paint.

The EPA originally established the lead-based paint regulations in the 1990s after finding that millions of children had been exposed to lead poisoning from paint that was peeling off walls.

But the agency says it is not necessary for renovators to receive additional hands-on training when they apply for recertification, because they already learned those lessons when they entered the industry.

Under the proposed rules, renovators will be still be required to take an online refresher course to renew their licenses after five years, but they would no longer be required to go through a second round of hands-on training.

The EPA estimates the changes would save industry nearly $10 million per year, but have only a minimal effect on health and safety.

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