The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is coordinating with the Vermont Department of Health to start an initiative to proactively improve compliance with laws to protect children from lead paint poisoning in the state, according to a news release. In 2018, 420 children under the age of six had elevated blood lead levels in Vermont.
"Reducing exposure to lead is a top priority for EPA," said EPA acting regional administrator Deb Szaro. "This place-based initiative in Vermont will allow us to work with our state and local counterparts to increase awareness and improve compliance with lead paint renovation laws, therefore, reducing the risk of childhood lead exposure."
The initiative primarily aims to reduce lead paint exposure through increased awareness and improved compliance with 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 will focus its work in Bennington, Rutland, and Windham counties in Vermont because they have been identified as the areas with a high risk of lead paint exposure because of the older housing stock in the communities. The EPA distributed compliance information to more than 500 contractors and property managers in the three Vermont counties and the agency will also work to raise awareness and train people on how to adhere to the lead paint rules.
The agency plans to conduct spot inspections of entities engaged in work involving lead paint renovations. Such inspections, and any subsequent enforcement follow-up, will aim to ensure contractors involved in lead paint renovations use methods that will prevent exposure to lead paint.
The EPA recently conducted similar targeted initiatives in the seacoast area of New Hampshire and Maine in 2018, New Haven, Conn., in 2014, Nashua, N.H., in 2015, and Lewiston/Auburn, Maine, in 2016. The 2018 initiative in New Hampshire and Maine resulted in 286 certifications of companies or firms, 1,156 training certifications of individuals, and 59 lead inspections.