Lead abatement is an activity to reduce levels of lead, particularly in the home environment, generally to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards, in order to reduce or eliminate incidents of lead poisoning.
Lead abatement may be undertaken in response to orders by state or local government. It requires specialized techniques that local construction contractors typically do not have. It includes activities such as lead-based paint inspections, risk assessments and lead-based paint removal.
In the United States, lead abatement activities are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Individuals and firms that conduct lead-based paint activities, including abatement, must be certified.
Lead abatement is distinguished from Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) programs, which are typically performed at the option of the property owner for aesthetic or other reasons, or as an interim control to minimize lead hazards. RPP programs are not designed to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards.
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History of lead poisoning in the U.S.
The reason that lead paint is such a common issue is because of its durability and widespread use. It was constantly endorsed by local and state governments until the 1970s, despite domestic occurrences of lead poisoning and reports from European countries that revealed its toxicity. By 1940, it was commonly associated with negative effects. It was only in the 1970s when the U.S. took action against lead based paints.
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Causes of lead poisoning
Lead can be found in dust, in water, in the air, in gasoline, and in the soil. Lead is a naturally occurring element that is cheap in relation to its alternatives; because of this it can be found in many things such as batteries, stained glass, jewelry, pottery, ammunition, pipes, cans, toys, and fishing sinkers. Mining, burning fossil fuels, and manufacturing has increased the production of lead.
The occupation and location of an individual can greatly increase the chances of them experiencing lead poisoning. Workers in the auto repair, mining, battery, manufacturing, painting, pipe fitting, and construction industries are more exposed to lead on a regular basis. People who are poor or in developing countries have a higher chance of experiencing lead poisoning because of gentrification and environmental racism regulating them into areas that haven't been evaluated to meet the current standards .
Even though lead paint usage has been abolished, when there are still houses and buildings that have not had the lead paint removed. The removal of lead paint may also cause symptoms because of the dust created in the process that still contains unhealthy amounts of lead.
Contemporary lead crises in the U.S.
Flint, Michigan, has become relatively famous because of its lead infested water. Poorly treated water and decaying pipes caused lead levels to rise significantly and become extremely dangerous if ingested. Unfortunately other cities are suspected of having a relatively poor water situation because of recent analysis of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) records by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). It has been estimated that in 2015 over 18 million people had been served by 5,363 community water systems that contained water that did not pass the Lead and Copper Rule's regulations.
An additional 33 cities around the US have been investigated for violating EPA guidance when it comes to properly testing their water systems for lead contamination. The results of analyzing documents found that correspond to the recent water testing operations in these cities show that 23 cities were instructed to run water slowly, which reduces the amount of lead dislodged from the pipes. 7 cities were instructed to remove aerators from spouts before water was ran, which reduces lead content. 21 cities were instructed to "pre-flush" before testing done by the EPA, which influences the amount of lead the EPA can detect. This information revels a previously less known issue that plagues many U.S. citizens.
Lead paint mitigation options
Lead paint removal can cost 8 to 15 dollars per square foot. A kit offered by the EPA containing lead test costs 25 dollars. After a house has been discovered to contain lead, its owner has four options they can pursue to prevent lead poisoning.
The least expensive and least complex strategy. A paint like coating is brushed or rolled unto the lead surface to create a watertight bond that seals the lead. It is not the most sustainable option, since normal wear and tear throughout the years will eventually weaken the coating.
The lead surface is covered with drywall, aluminium, or vinyl cladding. Similar to encapsulation, it is considered to be relatively cheaper and not reliable or sustainable.
The lead can be removed with techniques such as wire brushing or wet hand scraping with liquid paint removers. Contractors may use an electric sander equipped with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered vacuum or a heat gun. Burning, torching, and machine sanding without a HEPA attachment is forbidden. This option is the second most expensive and the second most sustainable.
The most expensive option, since it calls for the entirety of whatever the lead paint is covering to be completely removed and disposed of. This is arguably the most sustainable, since removal requires many resources to be used to clean the area of lead, and also produces lead dust and chips which are still very dangerous.
The costs of cleaning up lead is far less than the amount the damages of lead will accumulate to. Replacing aging pipes made with lead with newer and safer alternative pipes would potentially cost millions per city. The amount of money, energy, and time that people would have to sacrifice because of lead poisoning affecting them would dwarf the amount spent of removing lead. It's difficult to place a monetary value on emotional distress caused by lead poisoning and other lead related complications, such as tumor growth, but it can be assumed that the costs of missing work because of these conditions can be substantial for every patient.
For example, a study on Flint, Michigan, concluded that the average price for a house to change its water lines is $7,500. Newly approved cancer drugs can cost an average of $10,000 per month. The initial cost provides many long term benefits.
Source of the article : Wikipedia