Investigations into the lead-removal practices of more than 200 randomly selected contractors across 30 U.S. cities. Posing as a homeowner painting a toddler’s room in a 1920’s home, we asked contractors how to go about the project. The results were alarming: 30 percent of the contractors contacted gave dangerous advice on working around lead paint compared to 34 percent in 2007.
More than 24 million U.S. homes were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned. More than 300,000 children in the United States have dangerous blood lead levels which often leads to long-term developmental and behavioral problems.
Contractors who routinely work around lead paint should be educated in its dangers and on how to safely remove it. The Environmental Protection Agency is requiring renovators and remodelers to be certified on lead-safe work practices.
A new EPA rule prohibits commonly mistaken practices, such as open-torch burning and using high-heat guns. High speed equipment, such as grinders and sanders, are also prohibited, unless they are equipped with a HEPA filter.
There are first-step over-the-counter lead tests available for consumers to purchase, but certified lead inspectors offer the most accurate test by using an x-ray fluorescence spectrum analyzer system (XRF) to non-invasively and accurately measure lead levels in the home.