Action News vol 3 no 4 Spring 1995.
Tenants and Lead Paint
LEADLINE is fielding an increasing number of calls from tenants who have become aware of possible problems presented by peeling paint in the premises they are renting. They find themselves in a particularly difficult position, as the person responsible for remediation, the landlord, is usually very difficult to convince that there is a problem. If he does concede a problem, getting him to pay for a safe re-paint is the next difficulty, given the dearth of lead-aware painters and the additional cost of such a job. Often tenants face the prospect of having peeling lead paint removed from their walls only to have it distributed throughout the house as lead dust. Others have simply been invited to move.
Case (a) was pregnant and soon to be moved with her 2 year old child into a house owned by the school authorities of the private school where her husband teaches. The house was to be renovated prior to their moving in.
On re-contact she said that the US EPA information on lead-safe renovation sent to her had been very useful. "It gave us information to be able to ask for things to be done" although the school authorities have not been very co-operative. Their position to date has been that they will have 2 or 3 coats of paint put over the existing paint and everything will be fine. We recommended the EPA booklet for the draft specification, and that she tell the school authorities that she will be having blood lead tests for her and her child both before they move into the house and 6 months after. "Thanks for all of that - thanks for following it up."
Case (b) contacted LEADLINE because of her concern about the peeling paint in the rented house where she lives with her family, which includes a 15 month old baby and a 3 year old child.
As a result of her contact, she had her childrens blood lead levels tested - they were 0.4 µmol/L (8.3 µg/dL) and 0.2 µmol/L (4.1 µg/dL) respectively. At the time she was given the results she was told by her GP that "Anything under 0.7 is OK." She is now buying a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner and trying to get extra iron into her children. She has not yet confronted the landlord - she fears he will simply tell her to go and she cannot cope with a move at the moment.
Case (c) attended an information evening on lead organised by Ashfield Council on the initiative of Councillor Michelle Calvert, who is also a Project Officer with LEADLINE. At this evening she received printed information from The LEAD Group.
As a result she had dust and peeling paint in her rented home tested for lead, and also her 1 year old son. The paint contained 43,000 ppm, the dust 14,000 ppm and the childs blood lead was 0.58 µmol/L (12µg/dL). She said her real estate agent was more concerned about the lead levels than her landlord, even though the landlord has young children. They are now moving from the house "after a stand-up argument with the landlord" into a house with washable floors. She said she had received "so much information" from The LEAD Group - "You've been so helpful."
Case (d) is the mother of 2 children aged 2 and 4, who contacted LEADLINE because she wanted to rent the premises vacated by Case (c). The real estate agent told her about the high lead levels in the paint and dust, and in the previous tenants childs blood, and suggested that she contact LEADLINE.
As a result of The LEAD Groups information, she was able to have the peeling ceilings repainted and the carpet lead abated at the landlords expense prior to moving in, even though the landlord (who had grown up in the house, now lives in Canberra and has never heard of lead dust as a health problem) couldnt understand why there was any problem. She taped heavy paper over the linen cupboard walls where there is heavily-leaded peeling paint. She had her childrens blood leads tested before moving in (they were low) and will do so again in 6 months, and "is being very careful" with lead-aware housekeeping and child-care practices. The floor of the room where the children play is lino and she regularly mops that with sugar soap, and religiously washes the childrens hands before meals. She is not entirely happy with the outcomes, but feels she has done the best she can do under the circumstances.
She said she found The LEAD Group information extremely helpful - "There was just nowhere else to go to get any information at all."
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Updated 17 November 2012