What is Lead

Lead is an element which has been mined and used for over 5000 years. Lead is commonly found in emissions, dust, soil and water and can be found in structures painted before 1978. Lead exposures leads to many health problems and is a serious problem because it enters the body through ingestion or inhalation. Lead is particularly dangerous to children because they are still growing and they absorb more lead than adults do and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Adults and children may be exposed by breathing lead dust by spending time in areas where lead-based paint is deteriorating or during renovation or repair work that disturbs painted surfaces in older homes and buildings.

EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and pre-schools built before 1978 have their firm certified by EPA (or an EPA authorized state) and follow lead-safe work practices. OSHA requires that no employee is exposed to any lead above the permissible exposure level regardless of building type. The first process is to complete a lead inspection and it is required on all structures built prior to 1978 irrespective of the EPA rule limiting it to homes, child care facilities and pre-schools. Failure to follow the regulations can result in fines and license revocation.

Lead inspections include identifying the areas that will be disturbed during the renovation or demolition. The certified lead inspector collects the lead samples by two accepted methods. The first is collecting physical paint chip samples which are sent to an independent laboratory for analysis using atomic absorption spectroscopy. The second method is collecting direct lead readings from the painted surfaces using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry which is an elemental analysis technique. Both methods provide the lead content in paint, once the results are generated, a report is issued interpreting the results with reference to the documented regulations.

By Simon Hahessy | Posted in Lead