UNITED STATES: Lead poisoning in children is a major health hazard. More-so when homes use lead-based paint. The EPA has taken a lead to reduce lead poisonings in children, by suggesting new requirements to contractors and construction professionals.
For a good many years, Lead, a highly toxic metal has been used as a component in paint. Lead is known to cause a spectrum of health problems ranging from cognitive impairment and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Frequent hand-to-mouth behavior among
children below six years increases their risk of lead poisoning, as their developing nervous systems are highly vulnerable to lead's effects.
One of the main purposes of the proposed regulation is to prevent the use of lead-based paints during renovation activities especially in areas where children under six reside. Lead-based paints affect, more than 1.1 million children under age six, EPA's statistics states. A regulation is therefore imperative to ensure lead-safe practices are employed in renovation projects.
EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said, "Under President Bush's leadership, we are addressing one of the greatest environmental challenges facing our most vulnerable residents: childhood lead poisoning. Today's action brings us one step closer to ensuring that our nation's children are safe and healthy.''
The EPA initiative stipulates appropriate training in lead-safe work practices, authorized certification for renovators and firms, appropriate accreditation for training providers and above all, guiding standards for renovators, renovation contractors, maintenance-workers, painters and others involved in this trade. The EPA initiative is to be undertaken in two stages- Stage one will include only renovations before 1978 in rental and owner-occupied housing where a child with an elevated blood lead level resides, in rental housing built before 1960, and owner-occupied housing built before 1960 where children under six reside. Stage two, to commence a year after stage one, would apply to renovations in stage one in addition to renovations in rental housing and owner-occupied housing, during 1960 and 1978, where children under six reside. The initiative includes education, training and an outreach campaign to spread awareness about lead-safe work practices.
EPA is awaiting public response for 90 days after which the proposal will be published in the Federal Register.