Lead Paint Abatement: General
Lead Paint or Lead Based Paint
Legally defined as paint containing at least 0.5% lead by weight. Also, by XRF (see below for definition) testing, it contains lead equal to or exceeding one milligram per square centimeter (1.0 mg/cm2).
Blood Lead Level (“BLL”)
The amount of lead measured in the human bloodstream. It is measured in micrograms per deciliter (“mcg/dl”), or millionths of a gram per tenth of a liter. Since there is no use for lead in the human body, the ideal BLL is zero. Average US BLL’s are 1.2 mcg/dl for adults, and 1.8 mcg/dl for children under 6 years old. Research shows even slightly elevated BLL’s cause serious health issues especially on children under 6 years old, whose brains are still developing. These issues include loss of IQ points and development of ADD.
BLL Reference Level
The US CDC (Centers for Disease Control) defines any child with a BLL at or greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter to be at the “BLL Reference Level”. These children are considered to have elevated lead levels and require case management. At this point, parents, doctors, and public health officials can take early action to reduce the child’s BLL and also their future exposure to lead.
In Massachusetts, a child under 6 years old with a BLL equal to or greater than 10 mcg/dl is legally defined as lead poisoned. At a BLL of 45 or more, the US CDC recommends medical intervention for the child. Serious physical symptoms such as neurological disorders, headache and kidney damage can occur at sustained BLLs of 50 or more.
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (“CLPPP”)
A commonly used name for the lead paint programs in various states, including Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Often referred to verbally as “CLIP” by industry professionals.
Lead Paint Inspector
A Lead Paint Inspector is a trained and licensed professional. Most are private inspectors licensed by the state, although some state and local programs have Lead Inspectors on staff. MA DPH CLPPP has a complete listing on their website at http://webapps.ehs.state.ma.us/leadinspect/default.aspx. NH CLPPP has a complete listing on their website at http://www.dhhs.state.nh.us/dphs/bchs/clpp/documents/inspector.pdf.
Lead Paint Inspection Report
A comprehensive report comprised of a room by room listing of lead content for every architectural component. It also includes a complete listing of the exterior components. This is not to be confused with a Lead Paint Determination, which is created by a Lead Paint Inspector, or a basic Lead Determination, which is when a Home Inspector does some non-binding spot checking of surfaces.
An X-Ray Fluorescence Gun is a non-invasive and non-destructive testing device that measures the content of lead in a surface coating. It measures the weight of lead over a given area, and reads in milligrams per square centimeter “mg/cm²”). Lead content greater than or equal to 1.0 mg/cm² is considered to be lead paint.
Lead Paint Abatement or Deleading
The process of removing lead hazards from a building. This work is done by a properly licensed Lead Paint Abatement Contractor (also known as a Deleading Contractor). MA DLS has a complete online listing of licensed contractors, found at http://www.mass.gov/lwd/labor-standards/lead-program/license-lists/. NH CLPPP has a complete listing on their website at http://www.dhhs.state.nh.us/dphs/bchs/clpp/documents/contractor.pdf.
Lead Paint Abatement Methods
- Removal: Fully removing the paint with chemicals, heat or by hand scraping to bare wood, metal, plaster, etc.
- Replacement: Removing the item and replacing it with new.
- Covering: Installing a permanent cover over the lead painted surface, such as vinyl siding or aluminum trim for exterior work, and sheetrock or wood trim for interior work.
- Encapsulation: Applying liquid encapsulation paint to lead painted trim.
- Making Intact: Scraping loose paint from certain surfaces, and preparing the item for repainting.
Residents of the dwelling unit cannot live there while Moderate or High Risk Abatement (see “Terms related to the Massachusetts Lead Paint Laws” following) is taking place. There must be temporary to alternative housing until the home is cleared for Re-Occupancy by the Lead Paint Inspector.
Lead Paint Abatement Contractor or Deleading Contractor
A contractor who is trained and licensed by each state in which they work to do Lead Paint Abatement.
When abatement work is completed, the residence must be inspected by a Licensed Lead Inspector visually to confirm all Lead Paint Violations have been addressed and all areas have been cleaned and decontaminated so that there is no visible dust or debris. Then they must obtain lead dust wipe tests which are then analyzed at a lab to confirm that the lead dust has been cleaned and removed to safe levels. The location and quantity of samples are dictated by various regulations. The Lead Paint Inspector is licensed by the state and is hired directly by the property owner. In Massachusetts, the property owner must pay the lead paint inspector directly. This law varies from state to state.
RRP Rule (“Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule”)
A federal EPA regulation requiring lead-safe work practices must be employed when disturbing lead paint in residential renovation, repair, or painting jobs. This includes occupant notification, work area containment, worker training and certification, work practices, and clearance testing.
Terms related to the Massachusetts Lead Paint Laws
Every state has its own lead poisoning prevention laws. Massachusetts has one of the most encompassing and comprehensive laws in the country. This came about primarily as a reaction to the high number of lead poisoned children in the state in the 1980’s. Massachusetts had a high level of poisoned children due in large part to the high percentage of older houses coupled with the harsh weather that takes its toll on paint. The current lead paint law was passed in 1989 and went into effect in 1990, although it has been modified several times since then. Following are terms that will help you navigate through the complicated deleading process in Massachusetts.
Licensed Deleading Contractor or Deleader
A contractor who is licensed to perform all levels of Lead Abatement. Deleading Contractors are licensed by the Massachusetts Dept. of Labor Standards (“DLS”). DLS has a complete online listing of licensed contractors, found at http://www.mass.gov/lwd/labor-standards/lead-program/license-lists/. The list indicates whether or not the contractor has legal employees and therefore a valid Workers Compensation policy. Only the principals of a company listed as having “no employees” can legally perform any Deleading work.
Low Risk Deleading
Lead abatement work that creates little to no dust. This includes, among other things, removing doors from their hinges, covering flooring or stair components with carpet, or installing vinyl siding.
Low Risk Deleader
A contractor licensed by DLS who is limited to perform Low Risk Lead Paint Abatement.
Moderate Risk Deleading
Lead abatement work that creates limited dust. This includes, among other things, removing window sashes, removing door and window casings, or removing other wood trim pieces. In certain limited cases, a dwelling can be brought into Full Compliance by Moderate Risk Deleading alone.
Moderate Risk Deleader
A contractor licensed by DLS who is limited to perform Moderate or Low Risk Lead Paint Abatement.
Certified Lead-Safe Renovator (“LSR”)
A contractor or person who is certified in the EPA RRP Rule, as promulgated by Massachusetts DLS. They are authorized to only work on RRP related projects and cannot do Lead Abatement work, nor can they bring a property into Full Compliance or attain a Letter of Compliance.
High Risk Deleading
Lead abatement work that creates the most dust. This includes, among other things, scraping loose paint, stripping paint to bare wood, or plaster demolition.
High Risk Deleader
A contractor who is licensed by DLS to perform High, Moderate and Low Risk Lead Paint Abatement. Also known as a “Deleading Contractor.”
Lead Paint Violations
Any lead paint that is loose, peeling, blistering or chipping is considered non-compliant paint and must be addressed. Any lead paint that is considered “accessible mouthable” must also be addressed. These surfaces include rail caps, hand rails, window sills below 5 ft. of the ground or floor. Any movable window with lead paint must be fully stripped and re-glazed (re-puttied), or replaced with a new unit, and all friction surfaces must be stripped or replaced.
A surface that is prone to having its paint chipped or worn away due to normal use. In Massachusetts, these include Doors, Door Jambs and Stair Treads. These items must have the friction surfaces stripped in their entirety as part of the lead abatement process.
Letter of Compliance (“LOC”)
A property is in Full Compliance of the lead law when it has attained its Letter of Compliance as issued by a License Lead Paint Inspector. This means that all Lead Paint Violations have been addressed in the dwelling unit, any common areas, and the exterior. A child under the age of 6 can now legally occupy the dwelling unit.
A condition where urgent Lead Paint Violations have been addressed. This condition allows a child under 6 to live in the residence for up to 2 years. Interim Control must be renewed after the first year. It’s a cost-effective option for a property owner who needs to rent a property for a short duration, or if a child resident will be turning 6 within 2 years. Interim Control cannot be renewed after 2 years. The property must then either be brought into Full Compliance, the child must no longer live there, or the child must have turned 6.
Post Compliance Assessment Determination (“PCAD”)
Once a property has an LOC issued, a PCAD is created by a Licensed Lead Paint Inspector typically upon property transfer or when the owner is preparing for a tenant with a child. It lists items that must be addressed in order to bring the property back into compliance. These items are typically areas of paint that have started peeling over the years. Once these items are addressed, they are re-inspected and dust wipe tests are taken as required. A “Letter of Restored Compliance” is then issued by the Licensed Lead Paint Inspector.
A type of fungus that grows in colonies and reproduces by means of spores. It needs food—anything from wood to sheetrock paper—and moisture to grow. There are tens of thousands of species of mold, however only a small percent of them are known to cause allergic reactions.
The fine tubes of branching filaments that make up the mold structure.
A cluster of Hyphae.
The reproductive cells of mold. They can remain dormant for years, then begin to grow when the proper conditions of food, moisture and temperature are met.
Toxic Black Mold
The general term used to describe Stachybotrys (stacky-bot’-ris), one of the species of mold known to cause health issues in many people. Health effects may range from headaches and eye irritation to acute respiratory issues. In buildings it typically grows on sheetrock, using the paper as food. The mold can’t be removed from contaminated sheetrock—the sheetrock must be replaced.
Dry Ice Blasting
A method for removing mold from surfaces using high speed blasting of dry ice pellets. This environmentally friendly method yields superior results in less time than other methods. The mold is completely removed without the use of chemicals.
Disinfectant or Fungicide
Anti-microbial agents, usually in liquid form, that kill mold and bacteria.
Plant-based disinfectants that are very effective yet non-toxic.
A latex paint containing additives that resist mold growth. This is typically applied to surfaces that may still be exposed to moisture in the future.
A typically passive system to keep an attic cool, ideally including soffit vents below the eaves and a ridge vent along the top. A cold attic in winter is vital to avoiding ice dams and mold growth. A cool attic in summer is vital to lowering energy bills and prolonging the life of your roof.
Sufficient insulation is vital to prevent excessive heat loss from your home in winter, and also to prevent the hot attic air in summer from radiating into your living space. It is also important to seal up holes and pathways for air to leak through the ceiling into the attic—like recessed lights and bathroom vent fans.
Relative Humidity or RH
The ratio of the current absolute humidity to the highest possible absolute humidity before the air is fully saturated. Basements with greater than 60% RH contain enough moisture in the air to grow mold. It is essential that basements be maintained at below 50% RH to help prevent mold growth.
The mold remediation industry standard that defines recommended work practices. IICRC is the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification. http://www.iicrc.org/
The US Environmental Protection Agency produced guidelines and recommendations for mold remediation, similar to the IICRC S-520. http://www.epa.gov/mold/cleanupguidelines.html .
A highly efficient paper filter that removes 99.97% of contaminants down to a 0.3 micron particle size, sufficient to remove mold spores and lead dust from the air. A HEPA filter removes particles only—it does not remove chemical fumes.
A system of poly sheeting and HEPA filtered negative air designed to prevent contaminants from leaving the work area. The poly covers floors, furniture and belongings, windows and doorways. Duct tape is used to seal all seams so the poly is air tight. The HEPA filtered negative air keeps the work area under a slight vacuum so that if there are any breaches in the containment, clean air will get sucked in instead of contaminated air getting pushed out.
HEPA Filtered Negative Air
A machine comprised of a fan and 3 stages of filters, from a bulk filter to HEPA rated. The machine pulls the dirty air from the work area, filters it, then blows the cleaned air outside of the containment.
HEPA Filtered Air Scrubbing
Removing airborne mold spores and other particles by running a HEPA filtered air scrubber in the contaminated area for about 24–48 hours after remediation is completed.
A vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter, used to decontaminate lead paint and mold remediation work areas.
The removal and disposal of contaminated items.
Performed by a mold inspector, the inspection consists of a visual assessment of the building to determine the extent of the mold contamination. Air sample and “tape lift” tests (pressing adhesive tape to a suspected surface, then sending the adhered contents to a lab for analysis) help determine the extent of the problem and the species of mold involved.
A test conducted by a mold inspector typically involving a visual inspection of the work area to confirm that mold-contaminated surfaces have been properly remediated, air sampling and surface testing to confirm that the mold remediation was properly contained and cleaned up.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that has been used in many products due to its unique and useful properties. It’s fireproof, durable, flexible, and chemical resistant. But its tiny fibers, once they become airborne, can be inhaled, causing serious health problems.
The first step for any type of asbestos abatement is to properly contain the affected area with two sheets of plastic poly and set up HEPA negative air machines to circulate and filter the air. The licensed asbestos workers, wearing full Tyvek suits and HEPA filtered respirators, then remove or otherwise contain the asbestos materials.
Asbestos-Containing Material (ACM)
Any material containing more than 1% asbestos. They are divided into two categories: friable and non-friable.
Any asbestos-containing material (ACM) that can be crushed, crumbled, or pulverized. This type is more of a concern as it’s easier for them to be damaged and release toxic asbestos fibers. Examples include sprayed insulation, pipe lagging, and fire retardants.
Asbestos-containing materials that are more stable and less likely to be damaged. While these are still a potential hazard, they are less likely to cause asbestos-related health concerns. Examples include roofing, asbestos cement sheets, and vinyl floor tiles.
Vermiculite is a naturally-occurring mineral Unfortunately, vermiculite insulation often includes asbestos fibers and can cause health concerns should it become disturbed. If the insulation is in good condition, it is best left alone. However, if the insulation is in poor condition or you want to renovate, asbestos abatement is necessary. For more on vermiculite.
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by asbestos exposure. Symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent cough, and loss of appetite (often with weight loss). This inflammation and scarring of the lungs can increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
An asbestos hygienist is a state-licensed specialist who oversees asbestos abatement projects to ensure proper work practices are utilized and to help maintain a safe environment for everyone involved.
The best option is to contact an industrial hygienist firm to perform sampling and testing, especially if you are planning a renovation or maintenance project that could disturb asbestos.