Lead: after the crisis in Flint, Michigan, every American who wasn't already aware got a crash-course education in its inherent dangers. Just a few parts per billion in the water of a substance we used to casually put in our pencils, caused untold medical damage to thousands of residents. Unfortunately, lead was used in more than just our pencils; lead has been and continues to be used in a variety of products that may pose a danger to those who come into contact with improperly insulated doses of the substance. Nielsen Environmental is here to make sure that lead is not an ongoing problem in your home; you can help prevent exposure to the substance's deleterious effects through a consultation with our expert lead removal specialists. Below is a short FAQ on what to look for in your home or office, and how to begin the process of lead abatement:
Where is lead found?
Most commonly is found in paint. It is estimated that 600 million pounds of lead paint were used in California homes over the years. Lead is also found in soil, water and dust. Other sources of lead include:
- Art supplies
- Hobby supplies: fishing sinkers, bullets, lead "came" for stain glass.
- Glazes on dishes and pottery
- Certain folk medicines and home remedies
- Many vinyl products including some blinds, electrical cords and telephone cords
- Lead solder
- Brass faucets, valves or fittings
- Old pipes
- Brass keys
- Computer monitors
- Other electronic equipment
- Some food products
Why was Lead Added to Paint?
Lead was added to paint to make it last longer, dry faster and stick better. Lead paint also provided better color and prevented the growth of mold and mildew.
In California, lead based paint is defined by state law as "paint, varnish, shellac, or other coatings on surfaces that contain more than 1.0 mg/cm2 of lead or more than 0.5% lead by weight"
Until the mid-1950s, some paint contained as much as 50% lead (500,000 parts per million)--a shockingly high concentration, according to health standards which have been revised over the decades. In 1979, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ordered the lead in residential paint reduced to 600 parts per million.
Latex paint has very rarely contained lead.
Older buildings are naturally more likely to have paint with high levels of lead. All buildings should be assumed to have lead-based paint unless they have been tested and shown otherwise, or unless paint records prove that the building has always been painted only with latex paint.
Can You Paint Over Lead Paint?
Old lead paint is often covered with more recent layers of paint that don't contain lead. It's well to remember, however, that the layers underneath may contain a hidden danger; painting over old layers of lead paint may temporarily abate that danger, but there is still a possibility that the old lead paint may continue to loosen underneath and create toxic lead dust.
Lead based paint was frequently used in kitchens and bathrooms, but it may be found throughout the interior and exterior of older homes. Where there is lead paint, exterior painted surfaces usually have about twice as much lead as interior surfaces. In addition, the paint on trim such as window sashes, door jambs, and baseboards usually has more lead than wall paint.
Is All Lead Paint Hazardous?
No. Lead paint becomes hazardous when it is deteriorated or disturbed. Intact lead paint is not a hazard. But when sun, water, age, or maintenance work damage the paint, contaminated dust and chips can be created. Of course, all painted homes will experience sun, water, age, or maintenance work at some point, so it is important to look out for signs of paint weathering, which can cause the accumulation of lead dust, fumes, particles and chips.
How Does Lead Paint Get Into the Body?
Lead gets into the body when adults or children breathe or swallow lead dust, fumes, particles, or chips. These may be:
- In the air, or soil
- On objects like tools or toys
- On surfaces like floors or counters
- On food, drink, or cigarettes
Why is Lead Dangerous?
Lead is highly toxic to the human body. It damages the brain, nervous system, and kidneys. Poisoning can occur gradually, and often there are no obvious symptoms.
Even at low levels lead can cause children to have learning and behavior problems, slow growth, and lower IQs. Children are not the only ones at risk. Workers in many occupations can also be poisoned if steps aren't taken to control lead exposure on the job. Therefore, lead paint removal is one of the best ways to ensure that these events don't happen.
Lead Industry References:
- State of CA 1.0 mg/cm2 (XRF)
- Federal 5000 ppm (5% by weight)
- LA County .7 mg/cm2 (XRF)
- Alameda Co 5000 ppm/5% by weight
- San Diego .5mg/cm2 (XRF) 1000 ppm/,1% by weight
Dust Clearance Levels:
- Floors: 40 ug/ft2
- Channel / sills 240 ug/ft2
- Channel / wells 400 ug/ft2
- 1000 ppm elsewhere
- 400 ppm child play areas
- Action Level is 30 ug/m3
- PEL is 50 ug/m3
- 15 ppb
- SW846 1,000 mg/kg
- WET .5mg/L
- TCLP 5mg/L
PEL for Lead:
- 50 ug/m3 (8hrs. TWA)
- Maximum concentration in 8hrs =400ug/m3
- If a shift is longer than 8hrs: 400 / 10hrs = 40ug/m3
County of Los Angeles Public Health References:
- Paint- not to exceed 0.7 milligrams per square centimeter (mg/cm2) by x-ray fluorescent reading.
- Soil- less than 400 parts per million (ppm) in areas that are accessible to children, and less than 1000 ppm in all other areas.
- Dust- less than 40 micrograms per square foot (ug/ft2) for interior floors, 250 ug/ft2 for interior window sills, and less than 400 ug/ft2 for window troughs and other horizontal exterior surfaces.
Steps for Compliance if you are cited by The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health
1.) Stop the unsafe work. Work may not resume until you receive approval from your inspector.
2.) Immediately begin cleaning of all affected areas to remove lead contamination caused by the unsafe work. As you can see from the list of procedures below, you won't be able to do it all yourself; calling a lead abatement specialist is an almost mandatory next step.
- Vacuum all surfaces, including walls, preferably with a HEPA filter equipped vacuum cleaner. If a HEPA vacuum is not available, use a new vacuum bag and dispose of the bag immediately after use.
- Mist and scrub the work area with a general-purpose cleaner on a wet rag or mop, changing the rinse water often until dust and debris are removed.
- Vacuum all surfaces again once more before they are dry.
- Scoop up all visible paint chips, place into a plastic zip-lock bag, seal and tape, and dispose of the bag at the county household hazardous waste collection facility.
- Cover the bare soil areas with mulch, sod, landscape fabric, gravel, base rock, decomposed granite, or other similar type of ground cover. Surface coverings such as gravel, base rock or bark, must be a minimum of six inches in depth.
3.) Contact the office when the contaminated areas have been cleaned. An inspector will make a follow up visit to verify that the areas have been cleaned and take samples to ensure that the identified lead hazards have been corrected.
4.) Before any further lead removal, renovation or repair is permitted, you must demonstrate the ability to follow lead-safe work practices. Lead-safe work practices (17 CCR 36100) include:
- Worker protection (N 100 respirator, coveralls/disposable clothing, gloves, eye protection)
- Occupant protection (relocation, notification warning signs, ect.)
- Covering floor of work area with 6mil plastic sheeting to contain debris.
- Wet methods for scraping or sanding to minimize dust.
- Daily clean up (wet mop/wipe, HEPA vacuum)
- Proper waste disposal to household hazardous waste facility.
USE LEAD-SAFE WORK PRACTICES FOR ALL FUTURE WORK THAT DISTURBS PAINTED SURFACES
Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) is a soil sample of toxic material for chemical analysis used as a method to simulate leaching through a landfill. The United States has what is called the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976, that is a federal standard for the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste. RCRA requires that this type of waste stream must be characterized following testing procedures by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) TCLP is one of these tests.
Application of Test
The Environmental Compliance Supervisor is the gatekeeper at a typical landfill and RCRA Subtitle D uses TCLP data to determine if this type of waste is acceptable to dump into this facility. If the TCLP testing results are below the TCLP D-list maximum contamination levels (MCLs), the waste will be accepted. If the results of the testing are above these levels, the waste must be taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility such as Kettleman Hills Landfill located at 35251 Old Skyline Road Kettlemen Hills CA. 93239 in Kings County. The cost of disposal is expensive: (RCRA Debris) 55 gallon drums are $240 each, (Non RCRA) are $160 each, delivery fees around $750, out of area services $150, and excess weight $120 a ton just to name a few.
TCLP testing procedures:
- Sample preparation for leaching
- Sample of leaching
- Preparation of leachate of analysis
- Leachate analysis
Highly contaminated debris is expensive to dispose; grading is necessary to ensure safe disposal of "clean fill". The TCLP procedure is useful for classifying waste material options.
As can be seen from an analysis of the above procedures, lead paint removal is a complex, multi-step process that involves a strict adherence to local and federal standards. In order to perform a successful lead abatement in compliance with these strict standards, you need to contact fully-licensed experts who have been performing this kind of work successfully for decades--and that's why we're here.