Sixteen years ago, Congress told the Environmental Protection Agency to do something about the lead-tainted dust that seeps into the air during renovations of houses built before 1978.
Perhaps spurred on by recent recalls of lead-taineted toys from China, this week the EPA finally issued new rules requiring contractors to take additional precautions when it comes to the lead-tainted dust in renovations where kids under 6 and pregnant women are living.
According to an L.A. Times article, "Exposure to lead is especially dangerous to young children, because it can damage their developing brains, causing learning disabilities and behavioral problems."
The new rules apply to work done in residences, child-care facilities and schools built before 1978, the year lead was banned for use in housing.
The new standards were praised by advocacy group Alliance for Healthy Homes, according to an Associated Press article, but its executive director, Patrick MacRoy, said: "In the 16 years since we’ve been waiting for this rule, at least 17 million children have been exposed to harmful levels of lead unnecessarily."
The alliance also said the rule should have stricter requirements such as banning "dry-scraping" of lead-based paint, which creates more dust.
Other critics, including presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, say the rules should have been stronger, requiring more testing after remodeling to make sure there is no lead left, and should have affected more homes.
According the L.A. Times, "An EPA analysis estimated that the cost of home renovations would rise by $500 million per year but that the regulations would save as much as $5 billion a year in children’s health and education costs." The AP story says the regulations will add $35 to the cost of a remodel.
And, oh yeah, the rules won’t take place for another two years.
(Photo: Marin County)