Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure in Maine

Following is an email FCCAM received asking for assistance in reaching family child care providers.

Hello,

The below email is intended for staff at schools, day cares, and other child care facilities where there is risk of exposure to lead-contaminated paint and water. Please assist the US EPA in distributing this message throughout Maine as part of our geographic-based initiative in the Seacoast Area of New Hampshire and Maine to help reduce childhood lead exposure.

Thank you!

August 2018

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Dear Child Care Educator/Provider:

Is your school or child care center set up to combat childhood lead poisoning?

Children may become lead poisoned when they inhale lead dust, drink lead-contaminated water, or eat lead-contaminated paint chips, soil or food. Lead poisoning can cause lifelong impacts, including developmental impairment, learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems. Lead risks can occur in both urban and rural communities.  The information below is intended to help you reduce the risk of lead exposure in your school or child care center.

In 2018, EPA Region 1 launched a geographic-based initiative in the Seacoast Area of New Hampshire and Maine to help reduce childhood lead exposure. EPA is working with state and local partners to focus assistance, training, inspections, and enforcement on increased compliance with lead-safe rules and practices. Population growth and an uptick in renovation projects impacting lead paint were key factors in selecting this geographic area.

With this initiative, EPA aims to reduce lead exposures through increased awareness of and improved compliance with the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule issued under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act.  This is the fourth such lead-based paint geographic initiative undertaken by EPA Region 1 since 2014.  While in these cities, EPA will also assess compliance with the federal Disclosure Rule where applicable and provide educational information about lead in drinking water.

Lead Paint

Lead paint dust is the #1 cause of childhood lead poisoning.  Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure.  Because New England has a lot of older housing stock, lead paint is still frequently present in buildings that were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned.

Although the United States banned lead in residential paint in 1978, houses and schools built before 1978 could still contain lead-based paint.  Risk of exposure to lead paint and dust is significantly increased during renovation, repair, or painting activities.  Among other things, the RRP Rule requires that renovations of child-occupied facilities built before 1978 be carried out only by Lead-Safe Certified renovation contractors who are trained in lead-safe work practices.  This is to ensure that these renovations do not inadvertently expose children to hazardous lead dust.

You can help control the dangers of lead-based paint by: 

  1. Watching for and addressing peeled or disturbed paint in your pre-1978 school or child care facility.
  2. Hiring a Lead-Safe Certified renovation firm to renovate, repair, or paint your pre-1978 school building or child care facility.  Ask your building’s contractor for proof of lead-safe certification.
  3. Becoming a Lead-Safe Certified firm.  Your maintenance staff would take an RRP Rule training course and use proper lead-safe work practices.  Be sure to maintain records of your certification and lead-safe renovation work.
  4. Tell parents about the risks of lead paint exposure and encourage them to hire a Lead-Safe Certified firm for their pre-1978 home renovations.  EPA provides free outreach materials to educate parents about lead safety and the RRP Rule.

More information about hiring an RRP Lead-Safe Certified firm, becoming a certified firm, or attending certification training in your area may be found at: https://www.epa.gov/lead/renovation-repair-and-painting-program-operators-childcare-facilities.

Lead in Drinking Water

Common sources of lead in water include lead pipes, lead solder, faucets or components containing brass.  Testing the water with a certified laboratory is the only sure way to determine whether the water from the tap contains elevated lead.  Contact Maine Department of Health and Human Services (ME DHHS) at(866) 292-3474 to find a certified lab that will test your drinking water for lead.

You can reduce lead exposure from water by:

  1. Removing or replacing known sources of lead.
  2. Flushing your pipes by running your tap before using water for drinking or cooking.
  3. Using only cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula. Boiling water does not remove lead from water.
  4. Cleaning your faucet’s screen regularly (also known as an aerator).
  5. Consider using a water filter certified to remove lead and know when it’s time to replace the filter.

More information about preventing lead exposure through drinking water in schools and child care facilities may be found at: https://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/lead-drinking-water-schools-and-childcare-facilities.

More Resources about Lead:

You can educate your students about lead safety using these EPA videos geared towards grade school children:

  • Video: How Mother Bear Taught the Children about Lead – Part I

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOj9XYsjbS4&nohtml5=False

  • Video: How Mother Bear Taught the Children about Lead – Part II

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QIWZpg50h0

The State of Maine also has lead safety rules that need to be followed, and offers programs, trainings, and outreach materials that can be used to disseminate information about lead to parents and children. Follow these links for more information:

For more information on EPA Region 1’s lead poisoning prevention efforts and available outreach materials, please contact Amanda Brylski, Regional Lead Coordinator, at (617) 918-1758, or by email at Brylski.Amanda@epa.gov.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Sincerely,

Sharon M. Hayes

Sharon M. Hayes, Manager
Toxics and Pesticides Unit
Office of Environmental Stewardship

Report a violation of Lead Paint Rules in New England
Phone: 617-918-TIPS (8477) or toll free 1-888-372-7341, ext. 8-8477

https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/reporting-violation-lead-paint-rules-new-england

UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY