Warnings about un-trained asbestos cleanup workers; Lack of training or job supervision result in improper asbestos, lead, mold and similar contamination removal efforts; Basic Safety advice for lead paint removal on buildings; Comparison of the relative safety of different lead paint removal methods
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Lead paint removal / abatement warning and case report: this article warns about un-supervised or un-trained environmental cleanup companies or work crews handling asbestos, lead, mold, and similar indoor contaminants, including
identification of amateur or improper asbestos "abatement" projects that failed to properly remove materials or that left abandoned
asbestos materials in place.
Question: Who Should I Use for Cleaning Up Lead Paint Dust Left by My Contractor?
You’re going to love this one. (maybe not). We were getting the exterior of our house painted. Since we have young kids (8 and 10), I thought I was careful to choose a painter only after discussing with the painter to discuss how they dealt with lead.
Our house painters seemed to do a good job (removing paint under a tarp to contain the lead, etc) until I went into our garage and noticed a white dust coating over everything and also found their mask, lights, tarp, etc next to my kids bikes! I tested contents throughout the garage and it’s a hot zone. The lead paint dust was everywhere and we had lots of items stored all over the garage.
The good part is the vendor is taking ownership. He would like to remove everything from the garage, wipe the articles down and box them, and then power wash the garage. (even the overhead electric door opener probably has dust on it.) I’m wondering whether it’s better to vacuum everything first (contents and entire garage, then wash down)and with a $500 HEPA lead specific vac vs just using a Shop Vac with HEPA filter. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
Maybe there’s a business for inspectors who will check the premises for lead during and after a paint job. Maybe I need to hire someone watching the painters next time? We have drains in the garage and driveway. Theoretically, we could filter the water where it drains. Easy to say.
I think the ultimate challenge will be to determine after the clean up whether it's really clean. How do I know whoever will wipe every bottle, toy,even fire wood? It's such a mess.
Thanks - GK October 2010
Reply: A qualified professional company with expert supervision should be used for any environmental cleanup
Our OPINION about this lead dust containment mistake is below:
It sounds like a mistake to power wash the lead-paint-dusted garage interior:
By power-washing the garage interior and simply allowing the wash-out to flow outdoors, you'll just be moving the contamination to the outdoor yard soil where your children play, to the street and as the wash dries, to air, and to neighbors, or the storm drain system
Power-washing the garage interior, assuming some surfaces are insulated or covered with drywall, risks driving water into building cavities, creating a mold problem
That approach certainly won't properly clean all of the items that are stored in the garage and are or may be contaminated with high levels of lead paint dust and debris.
It sounds questionable to have a lead dust contamination cleanup done by a contractor or their crew who, from having created the problem in the first place, appear not properly trained.
It sounds reasonable to HEPA vac and wipe all surfaces - that's part of what a lead abatement co would do, but they'd also probably have already set up a barrier between the garage and rest of the home.
Therefore you should be using a professional, trained, supervised lead paint or contaminated dust environmental cleanup company to handle this cleanup job. It's too bad, and surely an accident, but the lack of training or attention by the painter appears to have unavoidably increased the cost of this renovation job.
(Feb 26, 2012) Peter Desmond, The Meridian Grou said:
You are correct that power washing will merely transfer the dust to wherever the water runs. If it runs down into a drain that goes to a sewer, great. If it goes to your lawn, no.
A HEPA filter on a "shop vac" is NOT a HEPA vac. 1. Shop vacs leak; the stuff inside does not necessarily stay inside. 2. The exhaust on shop vacs is not diffused. They can and do end up blowing debris around which may end up settling on an area that has already been "cleaned."
If you want to clean the area, start with a true HEPA vac and vacuum everything. Workers should be wearing respirators fitted with a HEPA filter (stay away from the single-use HEPA filters as they do not necessarily fit your face), coveralls and nitrile or dish washing gloves.
Wash everything down inside the garage starting at the top and working your way down. (Lead is heavy so it tends to settle to horizontal surfaces rather than clinging to vertical surfaces.)
Use two buckets of water. Bucket one is your wash bucket. In bucket one use very hot water and add tri-sodium phosphate. Bucket two is your rinse bucket. Using big sponges (such as for tile grout work), soak your clean sponge in bucket one. Wash a small area turning the sponge to pick up the dirt.
Rinse your now dirty sponge in bucket TWO until clean. Soak your cleaned sponge in bucket one and wash the next area.
Change the bucket two water when it gets dirty by pouring it down the toilet and flushing. Most of the nasties will be in the bucket two water.
The reason you use two buckets is to keep the wash water in bucket one clean for as long as possible.
You will need to rinse everything once you finish washing the equipment,walls, windows and doors. TSP leaves a film that should be rinsed off. The "beauty" of TSP is that it is "sticky" to materials like dirt and lead.
The one downside to this is that the cleaned areas will be appear dramtically cleaner than adjoining uncleaned areas as the TSP does not differentiate between lead, dirt, and grime. It just cleans.
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"Lead Poisoning Update", The Old House Journal, 1983
Exterior Paint Problems on Historic Woodwork [Copy on file as /exterior/Preservation_Brief_10_ Exterior_Paint_Problems_on_Historic_Woodwork.pdf ] - , Kay D. Weeks and David W. Look, AIA, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Parks Service Preservation Brief No. 10. Web search 02/01/2011, original source: http://www.nps.gov/hps/tps/briefs/brief10.htm
Methods for Removal of Lead Paint from Steel Structures, Technical Report REMR-EM-08, Lloyd Smith, Corrosion Control Consultants & Labs, Inc., Kentwood MI, Alfred Beitelman, US Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratories, Champaign, IL, US Army Corps of Engineers, 1994, Department of the Army, US Army Corps of Engineers, Washington DC 20314. Websearch 02/01/2011, original source: http://www.cecer.army.mil/techreports/beit_led/BEIT_LED.RPT.post.PDF
National Bureau of Standards lead paint hazards report NBSIR-75-974 [Abstract]. Demonstration of experimental lead paint hazard abatement methods in Atlanta, Georgia final, Dept. of Commerce, National Bureau of Standards, Institute for Applied Technology ; Springfield, Va. : for sale by the National Technical Information Service, 1978, OCLC # 04094947, at OCSPP Chemical Library/Washington,DC
"The voluntary standard established in the United States under ASTM F-963 and the European standard under EN-71 for soluble lead in toys (lead which may migrate from the toy and be ingested by the child) is 90 parts-per-million. At that level, any intentional use of lead in paints or other surface coatings containing lead would immediately put the toy over the permitted limit."
"Under federal law, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforces a standard for total lead of 600 ppm. Recently, the CPSC refused to lower the lead limit in paint and other similar surface coating materials to 100 ppm after finding that most paints sold in the United States were already at or below that level and, therefore, these materials did not present an unreasonable risk of injury warranting further government regulation."
"The lead-in-construction standard was intended to apply to any detectable concentration of lead in paint, as even small concentrations of lead can result in unacceptable employee exposures depending upon on the method of removal and other workplace conditions. Since these conditions can vary greatly, the lead-in-construction standard was written to require exposure monitoring or the use of historical or objective data to ensure that employee exposures do not exceed the action level. Historical data may be applied to all construction tasks involving lead. Objective data was intended to apply to all tasks other than those listed under paragraph (d)(2) of the standard.
"OSHA does not consider X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to be an acceptable method of analysis. As stated in your letter, XRF analyzers are generally considered accurate when concentrations of lead in paint exceed 1 mg/cm�. For the purposes of occupational health, these levels are considered substantial and may easily present an exposure hazard. Without having conducted monitoring, or without the benefit of historical or objective data, the employer has no assurance of the employee's exposure.
"Other regulatory agencies, such as Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) have designated levels of lead in paint below which they consider the paint to be non-lead containing. The missions of these agencies differ from OSHA's, and for that reason, OSHA cannot recognize these levels as safe under workplace situations"
We recommend reviewing this position letter from OSHA. -- DF
How to Identify Lead Paint Hazards, Maryland Department of the Environment, outlines
when a lead inspection is necessary, who can perform a lead inspection, and the types of analysis used for lead inspections and testing. Maryland
DOE includes suggestions for do-it-yourself lead paint testing using paint chips or scrapings. If you follow this approach be sure your
samples accurately represent conditions at the whole building, inside and out -- DF.
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