For Immediate Release - October 19, 2012

Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards Promotes National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Hire only Licensed Lead-Safe Renovation Contractors to perform renovation, repair, or painting work if you own a home or operate a child-occupied facility built prior to 1978

BOSTON – Friday, October 19, 2012 - National Lead Poisoning Prevention week is October 21-27, 2012.  This year’s theme is “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future.”  Childhood blood lead screenings in Massachusetts have revealed lower childhood blood lead levels over time; a byproduct of education, outreach, and diligence by parents, pediatricians, and health intervention specialists.  While the progress is commendable, there is still more work to be done.  This year, the National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lowered the threshold blood lead level of concern for children by half (from the former ten micrograms per deciliter to five micrograms per deciliter of blood).  The lowered threshold dramatically increases the number of Massachusetts children recognized to be at risk of detrimental health effects due to lead exposure.  

According to Suzanne Condon, Director of the Bureau of Environmental Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, “The new threshold means that Massachusetts has seen a significant increase in children who could be at risk of health impacts associated with lead poisoning.  It makes it all the more important to be aware of potential sources of lead in the home so we can take actions to protect children and families.”

The greatest risk to childhood lead poisoning is residential lead-based paint hazards which exist in pre-1978 housing stock.  While one can find other sources of lead in toys and jewelry, residential lead-based paints remain the source point of most investigations of lead-poisoned children.  Accumulated residual paint chips and dusts cause irreparable harm to children under the age of six.

While highly toxic lead-based paint was banned in 1978, it remains in an estimated 24 million housing units, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  This presents a significant exposure risk for children, workers, and consumers.   Lead dust and chips resulting from remodeling or painting are poison.  Adults who work with leaded materials must protect themselves from lead hazards.  Lead poisoning is a preventable medical condition, and preventing it is achievable now more than ever.  Proper clean-up of leaded dusts and debris is not unusually difficult or time consuming. 

During National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) takes the opportunity to remind Massachusetts residents about the legal requirement by contractors to control lead dust incurred during residential renovation activities in pre-1978 residential properties and child-occupied facilities. 

“The requirements of the regulation are simple: contractors must contain their work area, minimize dust and debris as much as possible, and clean up after their work is completed,” said Director of DLS, Heather Rowe. “A contractor who has taken the training, become licensed, and practices lead-safe work methods, is one who is conscientious about his/her work.  Properly trained and licensed Lead-Safe Renovation Contractors are not only working in accordance with the law, they will protect individuals, families, pets, property, and the environment.”

Hire only a licensed Lead-Safe Renovation Contractor for your renovation, repair, or painting work on your home or child-occupied facility built prior to 1978.  For a list of licensed contractors, visit www.mass.gov/leadsafe.

The Department of Labor Standards (DLS) provides education and outreach to workers, contractors and property owners.  DLS also checks job sites to see that renovators have been trained, are licensed, and are performing the work in a lead-safe manner. For more information about lead-safe renovation regulations, deleading and adult lead exposures, please visit our website at www.mass.gov/leadsafe.

 

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