Beginning on May 1, there is one more way to keep Rhode Island children safe and healthy. Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) is the first in New England that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has authorized to manage the state's Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovator Program. This program requires that any renovation or remodeling done to homes built before 1978 be done by a licensed Lead Hazard Control Firm. This new law applies to any contractor, painter, electrician or other worker who may disturb six square feet or more of paint inside a home or 20 square feet or more of paint on the outside of a home. The new regulations also apply to all elementary schools and childcare buildings built before 1978.
Most homes and structures built before 1978 contain lead paint. When lead paint is disturbed, the paint debris and dust can spread into the environment and could be ingested by children. Lead poisoning and elevated blood lead levels can impact the mental and physical development of children, especially those younger than six years of age. Licensed Lead Hazard Control Firms and their Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovators are trained and certified to safely remove lead paint and other lead hazards.
"Rhode Island has had lead-safe regulations in place since 2001," said Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH. "We now have the ability to ensure that only licensed Lead-Hazard Control Firms are doing work on homes built before 1978. Rates of childhood lead poisoning in Rhode Island have declined dramatically in the past 10 years; however, we need to continue to prevent this health hazard from having a negative impact on children's learning and school performance." Of the 12,384 children who will enter kindergarten in 2011, 2.4% (302) have had an elevated blood lead level at one time.
The recent changes to Rhode Island regulations are the result of a new EPA law that requires all states to adopt and enforce minimum national standards for renovating and remodeling pre-1978 homes or to permit the EPA to conduct enforcement. The Governor approved the delegation of authority to HEALTH, and the EPA formally delegated authority to HEALTH in late April. For information or to find a licensed Lead Hazard Control Firm, call the HEALTH Information Line at 401-222-5960.
Source: Rhode Island Government
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