Magazine article The Nation's Health

EPA Lead Paint Rule Should Go Further, Advocates Say

Magazine article The Nation's Health

EPA Lead Paint Rule Should Go Further, Advocates Say

Article excerpt

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued new rules for working with lead-based paint in March, eliciting praise for moving building practices forward but also frustration for not going as far as many advocates had hoped.

Officially titled the "Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Program," the new rule covers contractors who renovate or repair houses, schools and child care facilities built before 1978, the year federal officials banned the use of lead paint in residential housing. The rule, which goes into effect in April 2010, directs contractors to employ often simple precautions to avoid creating and spreading lead dust, to clean up any resulting dust as well as verify that the cleanup was effective. Contractors will also be required to be certified in lead-safe practices.

While national efforts have been highly successful in reducing childhood lead poisoning over the past two decades, it is estimated that more than 300,000 children ages 1 to 5 still suffer from the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Caused by breathing or eating lead-contaminated substances, such as paint chips, lead poisoning can lead to learning and behavior disorders, slowed growth and hearing problems.

Healthy housing advocates commended the long-awaited EPA rule, which had been in the works since 1992. However, the rule's "shortcomings almost undermine the regulations entirely," said Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing. …

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