EPA Launches Lead-Safe Training Program
Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a new training initiative, Enhancing Lead-Safe Work Practices through Education and Outreach, in Southern California communities.
The new program aims to raise awareness about childhood lead exposure and protect environmentally overburdened and underserved communities across the nation from lead exposure. The initiative arrives in accordance with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advancing environmental justice.
“Unfortunately, underserved communities are still dealing with the hazards of lead exposure,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “These trainings have a dual purpose of increasing economic opportunities and expanding the understanding of lead’s potential impacts on children’s health. Both are critical in giving communities the tools they need to protect themselves.”
About SoCal ELSWPEO
According to the EPA, the ELSWPEO plans to increase both the number of renovation, repair and painting (RRP) certified firms and consumer demand for lead-safe work practices as a means to better serve communities and advance environmental justice.
To achieve this, the combined approach sessions work hand in hand to increase awareness of the potential dangers of lead exposure and actions that can be taken to reduce potential exposure to lead, including the availability of RRP certified contractors in traditionally underserved communities.
The two-pronged approach to reducing lead exposure includes the following initiatives:
In launching the program in Southern California, the EPA reports that new trainings will be held in Los Angeles and San Diego counties.
The EPA adds, however, that both RRP trainings and Lead Awareness Curriculum Train-the-Trainer sessions are currently available in the following communities as well: Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Bismark-Mandan, North Dakota area; Hartford, Connecticut; Los Angeles County, California; Miami; Peoria, Illinois; Reading, Pennsylvania; San Juan, Puerto Rico; San Diego County, California; Boise, Idaho; and Trenton, New Jersey.
These communities reportedly reflect the diversity of the U.S., have known lead exposure issues and demonstrated a need for RRP certified contractors.
Lead Abatement Rule, Elimination & Health
At the beginning of the year, the EPA announced the final rule to lower the clearance levels for the amount of lead that can remain in dust on floors and windowsills after lead abatement.
EPA’s new clearance levels are 10 micrograms of lead in dust per square foot for floor dust and 100 micrograms per square foot for windowsill dust, significantly lower than the previous levels of 40 micrograms per square foot for floor dust and 250 micrograms per square foot for windowsill dust.
“These new clearance levels will reduce lead dust-related risks to children in pre-1978 homes and childcare facilities where lead abatement activities take place,” the EPA noted in its press release at the time. “After actions are taken to remove lead from a building, those buildings must then be tested to make sure that the cleaning activities were successful. These ‘clearance levels’ indicate that lead dust was effectively removed at the end of the abatement work.”
The standards were incorporated into the Section 402/404 lead-based paint activity regulations as well as the Section 1018 real estate disclosure regulations.
The new clearance levels were initially announced in June 2019 by former United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. Housing and former Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.
A few months earlier, in November 2020, specialty chemicals company Clariant announced that it was helping to accelerating the global phase-out of lead-based paint. The move was prompted by the eighth International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week held in late October.
The Prevention Week is an initiative of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, jointly led by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Health Organization, with the goal of drawing attention to the need for more action on lead paint and other sources of lead exposure.
To accomplish this, Clariant announced that it was supporting the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, which is hosted by the UN Environment Program, and is a global policy framework aiming to protect humans and the environment from chemicals and waste.
One of Clariant’s focuses was to support small- to medium-sized enterprises in transitioning to a lead-free paint market, along with providing safer solutions in countries where paint manufacturing with lead-based materials is still considered a cost advantage.
At the time, Clariant said it would continue its engagement in public policy dialogue on the issue as well as support SAICM in its push for legislation to set the course of the market and support SMEs in the transition ahead.