Lead paint continues to be a major issue in the United States. It is estimated that three-quarters of America’s homes still contain lead. For this reason, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated that contractors have professional lead certification training to become EPA lead certified. Furthermore, they must also engage in EPA lead certification renewal or refresher courses.
Older Buildings and The Presence of Lead
Lead-based paints used prior to World War II, contained upwards of 40% lead, which was measured by dry weight. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided a breakdown of the percentage of older buildings that still contain lead paint:
- Pre-1940 buildings: 90%
- Pre-1960 buildings: 80%
- Pre-1978 buildings: 62%
Lead Legislation and Laws
When homes built prior to 1978 are in the process of being sold or leased, it needs to be disclosed whether or not there are known lead hazards. This requirement arose from The Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, which has formed the basis of laws on lead paint disclosure.
Since December 1997, the amount of lead which can be in domestic paints has been limited to 0.1%. This is due to ongoing government efforts to ensure that lead levels are significantly reduced.
However, the U.S. Geological Survey has determined that there is lead in soil. This naturally-occurring lead contains 16 parts per million.
The Adverse Effects of Lead Exposure on Children
The need for contractors to be EPA lead certified is even more important when considering the adverse effects on children expose to lead. Over three-million children in the United States, aged six and younger,
have been found to have toxic levels in their bodies. This is one-out-of-every six children.
While these toxic lead levels can result from living in buildings or homes with lead paint, it has also been found that this is also due to presence of lead dust. When a child is less than six years old, they are even more susceptible to lead poisoning because they are still in the early physical and mental developmental stages. This is usually a time period when growth is rapid; however, lead poisoning can hamper this growth.
Lead poisoning, it has been shown, can result in children developing intellectual disabilities. The seriousness of this situation has been demonstrated by approximately 600,000 new cases each year.
There are other adverse effects that occur from children receiving lead poisoning at an early age. It has been found that these children are seven times more likely to be school drop-outs and six times more likely to become part of the juvenile justice system.
It is clear that lead poisoning is still a major issue in the United States. Given government disclosure regulations on older homes along with the combined efforts of EPA lead certified contractors, this situation can be addressed.