Adobe Stock / momius

Throughout 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has undertaken efforts to address the dangers of lead paint in Vermont, including compliance inspection and assistance and online training. The high volume of old housing stock in the state means many homes are likely to contain lead-based paint and as a result pose serious health threats to children, according to the EPA.

Beginning in June 2019, the EPA conducted 25 inspections of construction and property management companies in Bennington, Brattleboro, Manchester, Rutland, and Sunderland, Vt., to assess whether those businesses were complying with federal laws that require the safe handling and disposal of lead-based paint.

Before the inspections took place, the agency distributed compliance assistance information to 535 renovation contractors and property management firms that are subject to the federal Toxic Substances Contraol Act's (TSCA) lead paint laws, including the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule. RRP requires that when remodelers are working in houses built before 1978 on projects that could disturb lead paint, they must determine whether any lead paint is present and—if they do find presence of the paint or didn't do a test—must then use certain practices to contain the spread of the lead paint dust while they perform the remodel. The company doing the work and the renovators following lead-safe work practices both must be certified by EPA-approved training programs.

The agency also hosted a webinar for contractors focusing on how to comply with federal lead paint laws and outlining best practices for safely working with lead-based paint during renovation.

Childhood lead exposure reduction has been designated a high priority by the EPA. The agency released a Lead Action Plan in December 2018 designed to enhanced efforts to identify and reduce lead contamination while also reducing childhood lead exposure. The agency declared childhood lead exposure reduction as one its seven compliance assurance priority areas in June 2019, leaning heavily on the goals outlined in the Lead Action Plan.

The Vermont initiative is the EPA's fifth geographic initiative in the New England region aimed at reducing childhood lead exposure by increasing compliance and awareness of federal lead-paint laws. The agency previously conducted similar targeted lead-based-paint initiatives in the seacoast area of New Hampshire and Maine in 2018, Lewiston/Auburn, Maine, in 2016, Nashua, N.H., in 2015, and New Haven, Conn., in 2014. In the 2018 initiative in New Hampshire and Maine, the EPA completed 59 lead inspections over two years, leading to 286 more certifications of companies and firms, and more than 1,100 additional training lead-safe certifications for individuals.