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News Releases from Region 09

U.S. EPA trainings protect Bay Area residents from lead paint

Contact Information: 
Michele Huitric (huitric.michele@epa.gov)

SAN FRANCISCO – In recognition of Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (October 23-29), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding free lead-safe certification trainings in Oakland for local low-income contractors and day laborers. The trainings, which are also being held in El Paso, Denver, and Memphis, are part of a national effort to support compliance with the federal Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule.

The Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule was designed to protect the public from lead-based paint hazards that occur during repair or remodeling activities in homes, elementary schools, and daycare facilities that were built before 1978. Contractors who disturb painted surfaces in these buildings—for example, through window replacement or electrical work—must be trained and certified. They also need to provide educational materials to residents and follow lead-safe work practices.

“Training and certification help residents and workers remain safe during renovation work that creates hazardous lead dust,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA's Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "By emphasizing education and enforcement, EPA is committed to ensuring contractors follow lead-safe practices.”

EPA is working with local nonprofits (Oakland Workers Collective and Multicultural Institute of Berkeley), Alameda County Healthy Homes Program, and the City of Oakland to conduct outreach and sign up participants for the full-day trainings. The first two sessions, held on October 21 and 22, were provided in English. The trainings on October 28 and 29 will be in Spanish. To sign-up for or learn more about these trainings, call 1-800-969-3228.

“I want to thank the EPA for creating this win-win opportunity for Oakland families,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Contractors who otherwise might not have the chance are gaining a valuable professional certification that increases their marketability. At the same time they are learning how to mitigate the clear health threat lead poses to children, pregnant women, seniors and other adults in households throughout our city.”

Lead-contaminated dust can be easily ingested or inhaled. Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips that can settle on home surfaces. Exposure to such contamination through hand-to-mouth contact or breathing can result in lead poisoning for children, families and construction workers.

Though harmful at any age, lead exposure is most dangerous to children. Children’s growing bodies absorb more lead, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to its damaging effects. Lead exposure can cause behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and diminished IQ. Children can be checked for lead with a simple blood test.

Contractors that are certified under EPA's RRP regulations are encouraged to display EPA's "Lead-Safe" logo on workers’ uniforms, signs, and websites. Consumers can protect themselves by looking for the logo before hiring a home contractor, and by being aware of whether a renovator is following lead-safe work practices when working on their property. Those practices, such as what a renovator must do to minimize lead dust dispersion, are outlined in EPA's Renovate Right lead hazard information pamphlet, available at http://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/renovaterightbrochure.pdf 

Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is recognized internationally. During this week, the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, of which the United States is the current chair, will promote the importance of reducing lead exposure worldwide, with a particular emphasis in getting lead out of paint in developing countries where it is still in use. 

Find Lead Poisoning Prevention Week resources:

Learn about the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule and program: https://www.epa.gov/lead/renovation-repair-and-painting-program

Learn about lead-based paint requirements and hazards: http://www.epa.gov/lead

Find a certified contractor in your area: http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_firm.htm

Notify EPA about lead-based paint rule violations in California: https://www.epa.gov/region-9-documents/pacific-southwest-lead-based-paint-tips-complaints