LEAD Action News

LEAD Action News vol 3 no 4 Spring 1995. ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News ( ISSN 1440-0561)
The journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.

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There is a considerable overlap between the next two categories.

At the time covered by this review, the only printed information available to be provided to enquirers on lead-safe renovation was 2 booklets from the US EPA, "Lead Based Paint" and "Reducing Lead Hazards when Remodelling Your Home." LEADLINE photocopied (with permission) these booklets and made them available to many enquirers, as well as spending a great deal of time in helping them work out what they would need to do, and prioritising the various aspects of the lead-abatement project. Most often, more than one call, in addition to the printed information, would be needed for them to completely understand what was needed. It became clear to the project officers that the availability to enquirers of someone with whom to talk through the issues and ask questions was paramount in getting a good outcome.

Case (a) was a nurse who with her husband had been renovating for 3 years. She had her 9 month old son’s blood lead tested after hearing a LEADLINE Project officer being interviewed on the ABC - it was 0.49 µmol/L (just above the national goal of 0.48 µmol/L (10 µg/dL). At the first contact she said "Nobody says anything to you at the hardware store - even the paint companies didn’t say anything about a problem with old lead paint, though they gave information about all sorts of other things".

As a result of the information they received from The LEAD Group, they moved out of their house for a month while they did a complete clean-up - "It took ages. It was a terrible job". They are now waiting for the results of their child’s second blood lead test. This inquirer was very angry about the lack of warning information about lead -"The community health sisters who come to your home when you come home from hospital with your new baby, they see what your house is like, I even told the one who came to me we were renovating, they could tell you about lead - they tell you all this other stuff everyone knows anyway".

"It wouldn’t have been any hassle for us to have gone to my mum’s before we started - as it was we had all the guilt and worry of having poisoned our child, and we still had to do all this clean-up job - it was terrible."

She is "much more avid about wet dusting", and is buying a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner.

Case (b) is a pre-school teacher and the mother of a 16 month old baby and a 3 year old child. She had her children’s blood leads tested prior to contacting LEADLINE, as a result of concern raised by reading her local paper. She and her husband were renovating their house and had pulled down an old garage. The baby’s blood lead was 0.67 µg/L, the 3 year old’s "high but just below the level of concern". She contacted LEADLINE late on a Friday afternoon, distraught, having just received the results by phone from her GP and desperate to know what they meant, as the doctor had not been able to tell her much at all.

On recontact, she said that "LEADLINE’s support was brilliant - it was just fabulous to have someone to talk to." The information given to her verbally and in written form had been "so useful but quite frightening." She described the paint and soil sampling service offered by LEADLINE as "a very cost-effective way of finding out the extent of our problem." It disclosed lead levels in the soil of 8840 ppm (the level for further investigation is 300 ppm), and in ceiling paint of 18900 ppm. As a result of that information they have returfed the yard and will move out of the house before dealing with the ceilings. They have had the carpet and upholstery lead abated and will have it done again after the ceilings are remediated.

She is using The LEAD Group’s lead-aware housekeeping, childcare and nutrition advice personally, and has also introduced it at the pre-school where she teaches, and to the day-care centre attended by her children.

Case (c) had started renovating a 60 year old house. The living room had been sanded by a tradesman. They had tested the paint with a lead check kit and had a positive result. There was other peeling paint in the house.

After contacting LEADLINE, they had the 18 month old baby’s blood lead tested - it was 0.31 µmol/L (6.4 µg/dL). They also recently had soil and the paint off an old door tested - the results of these tests have not yet come back. In answer to the question of whether The LEAD Group information had changed what they were doing she replied "Oh yes! It was excellent. It very much affected what we’re doing." They have stopped all work at the moment because the first contractor was not lead aware, and not prepared to become so. They are now looking for another contractor. We referred her to another contractor, and to the EPA booklet. She said "I mop and wipe things up a lot more."

Case (d) is a medical scientist, mother of an 8 month old baby. Her husband used an electric sander to strip the paint off 5 old doors. She first contacted LEADLINE after reading an article in the consumer journal Choice. They subsequently tested the paint, which was leaded. They weren’t living at the house at the time, but were back and forth to it a fair bit.

She could not believe that she had been so unaware of the danger of lead to the baby - "I’m a medical scientist, I should have known, I should have realised." After discussion and further information from The LEAD Group, she decided to buy a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner, as the old one was used to clean up throughout the renovation and does not have disposable bags, and their house is in an old part of Melbourne where there is a lot of historical lead in the environment.

Case (e) is now a builder contractor, and comes from an extensive management background in the building industry, which included trade union representation, training and asbestos abatement. He contacted LEADLINE because he was about to embark on a massive renovation of his very old home in the inner west of Sydney. He wanted to do it in a responsible manner, and one that would not put his small child and pregnant wife at risk of exposure to lead.

On recontact he said "I needed a framework within which to do a responsible lead abatement of my home, and LEADLINE provided that. Your information was more than useful - it helped me to do the job with confidence. LEADLINE was the only organisation from which I could get the information I needed."

The family moved out of the house for the duration of the job, and as much paint removal as possible was done off-site in a controlled environment - this included windows, skirtings and architraves. Any other paint removal was done by wet-stripping, with all paint removed double-bagged every hour, and regular HEPA vacuuming. All power tools used were fitted with dust-extraction equipment with non-reusable bags. All paint waste went to the special waste tip.

He said "I proved to myself that it is commercially viable to do a lead-safe renovation. It is cost-effective. It doesn’t have to cost the earth. I’m satisfied and happy with the results, and I’m very grateful and appreciative of LEADLINE."

heat-gunCase (f) was renovating the lounge room of a 1890’s house at the time of first contact. They had heat-gunned and sanded the timber skirtings back to bare wood.

When asked on re-contact whether the LEAD Group information had made a difference to their renovation practices, she said "A 100% difference - I wasn’t going to risk my children". They have stopped all work for the time being and are getting "professionals" to finish the work in the New Year. We advised her of the probability that professional painters might know nothing about safe lead practises, and that she should obtain the EPA booklet with the model specification for obtaining quotes for removal of paint containing lead.

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Last Updated 17 November 2012
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