Lead Won’t Just Go Away!
Lead poisoning prevention is getting a lot of attention these days, especially in Western New York. The water contamination issue in Flint, Michigan has brought lead back on to the national spotlight and now state and local agencies are on the defensive. Dan Tevlock, a reporter for the Investigative Post, has written a series of articles and new reports that provide insight into the situation in Buffalo, where the percentage of lead poisoned children (14%) is well above the state and national averages, and higher than even Flint.
We’re seeing some progress by the County and State Attorney General, and the City of Buffalo is moving in the right direction. We’ve heard little from the Governor, other than an expression of support, and today Senator Schumer announced a proposal to fund lead testing in school drinking water.
This is all great, but it’ll take a concerted, grassroots effort to effectively combat long term exposure to lead hazards. This includes ensuring that those who disturb lead based paint or maintain older properties have the capability and resources to identify, control and clean up lead contamination. The HUD subsidized housing and EPA Renovator Rule meets a lot of these goals, but only when the lead safe work practices required therein are actually used.
Unfortunately, we’re not seeing the kinds of attendance at the RRP initial and refresher trainings that would be necessary to qualify the existing renovation, repair and painting workforce. Our sense is that lack of enforcement has the industry backsliding on the RRP certification. Better, local enforcement is the answer. The State takes the blame for that. They’ve declined to adopt the Federal standards for certification and work practices on several occasions, leaving property owners, tenants and workers at an increasing risk of lead exposure.
The private sector has a responsibility too. Parents, landlords and the public must understand the damage that lead exposure causes, and need to place value on efforts to reduce lead poisoning. We already have the resources to make that happen and it costs little but the benefits are great. An estimate in 2009 by Elise Gould, now the director of health policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, found that every dollar spent on lead hazard reduction could lead to $17 to $221 in benefits later on, mostly in the form of increased tax revenue (because kids not exposed to lead would earn more later in life) and decreased spending on health care.
We’re doing our part at EEA. On Earth Day, Friday, April 22, the 6th anniversary of the RRP, we will be presenting the EPA RRP Certification course, at no charge, to landlords and property owners from the City of Buffalo. Attendees will also be given a Lead Elimination Action Program (LEAP) lead cleaning kit, at no charge. Training and basic materials can make a big difference.
Buffalo landlords and property owners can register by calling 888 436 8338. Space is limited, and attendees must be able to prove they live or own property in the City. No more than 2 attendees from any 1 address or organization, please.
We’re also offering a full schedule of reasonably priced asbestos, lead & mold certification and recertification courses across the State, including;
Mold Remediation Supervisor & Contractor Certification, March 14-16, 2016 in Buffalo
Lead Supervisor Recertification, March 14, 2016 in Rochester
Lead Renovator Certification, March 17, 2016 in Rochester
Lead Renovator Recertification, March 18, 2016 in Poughkeepsie
Mold Abatement Worker Certification, March 17-18 in Buffalo
Lead Renovator Recertification, March 23 in Manhattan
Oh, and stay tuned for our new and improved website! More & better stuff coming this April.