you planning renovation and remodeling activities in the
your school building constructed prior to 1978?
you plan to use either in-house maintenance staff or a general
perform the work?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above
questions, you may be putting your students and employees at
risk of lead poisoning.
In 1978, the use of lead-based paint in United States housing was
banned due to the significant health problems caused by lead including
adverse effects on the central nervous system, kidneys, and blood formation
system. It is also associated with decreased intelligence and impaired
neurobehavioral development in children. Although children under six
years of age are especially at risk for lead poisoning, adults can
be poisoned as well. Renovation and remodeling activities in schools
constructed prior to 1978 may create lead contaminated dust and fumes
which may enter the body by ingestion or inhalation. Ingestion of lead
contaminated dust is the primary way children get lead poisoned.
and remodeling activities that involve cutting, scraping, drilling,
sawing, sanding, patching, and tearing down walls may disturb painted
surfaces that contain lead. Replacement of windows
is a special concern since they are seldom removed and tend to have
numerous coats of paint. Recent research has shown that following window
replacement, the amount of lead debris deposited on floors may be up
to 400 times higher than acceptable levels. Even performing work on
plumbing, electrical, and heating and ventilation systems may potentially
disturb lead. Work on painted exteriors of a building can produce lead
dust and paint chips that may contaminate the soil and be easily tracked
into the building.
Prior to beginning any
renovation and remodeling projects, it is recommended that a certified
lead evaluation professional be hired to test for the presence of lead-based
paint in any area which may be affected during the renovation. These
professionals can provide recommendations that will protect building
occupants and the environment from potential hazards. In some instances,
based upon factors such as the age of students, building occupancy,
and the extent of the renovation, it may be recommended that the work
be treated as a lead abatement project.
If a professional is not
hired to inspect and assess all painted surfaces, it is prudent to
assume that these surfaces contain lead. Any surfaces which are
known or suspected to contain lead should be treated as follows:
renovation and remodeling is scheduled, all non-workers, especially
pregnant women, should be kept out of the work area until the work
contractor licensed by the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA)
to conduct lead-related
activities should be hired to abate the lead prior to commencement
activities. For information on how to contact the DCA for a list of lead contractors or other contractor information, refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page.
of the contractor's employees who conduct lead-related activities,
must possess a
valid lead permit issued by the NJ Department of Health (DOH) . For more
information pertaining to the permitting of these individuals, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page.
must adhere to all applicable federal and state worker protection
requirements. The same precautions should be taken by in-house staff
even when performing
renovation activities require isolation of the work area. Refer
to the Indoor Air
Quality Standard (N.J.A.C. 12:100-13) for public schools, to ensure
that all proper steps
are taken to isolate the work area.
heating and air conditioning systems can spread lead-contaminated dust
throughout a building. Therefore, it is important to shut down
these systems and seal
intake and exhaust ducts in the work area before work begins.
work practices such as dry scraping, machine sanding, open flame burning,
or using a heat gun are extremely dangerous and should be avoided.
practices that either minimize dust and/or collect the dust generated
Simple, yet effective clean-up methodologies that include high efficiency
particulate air (HEPA) vacuuming and the wet-wiping of surfaces should
renovation and remodeling activities are complete and cleaning has
it is recommended that dust wipe samples be collected by a certified
professional to ensure that the work area is safe for re-occupancy.
should be analyzed by a competent laboratory.
For information on how to contact the DOH or other organizations mentioned in this article, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts or the Related Lead Links pages.