Lead is a common metal used through the centuries to make items like tools, paint, plumbing, dishware, art products, and folk remedies. There is documentation that even during the time of Socrates, lead was creating a health risk among those working in the lead and silver mines. Lead hazards among children and adults have come to public attention more recently because of studies conducted by the Center for Disease Control, Dr. Herbert Needleman, Pittsburgh School of Public Health, and Dr. Hoo, Harvard School of Medicine, which documented significant damage caused in children, especially in children younger than six years of age. Health effects of even small doses of lead include learning disabilities, hearing loss, and speech impairment in children; hypertension, reproductive damage, kidney damage, & neural damage in adults, and other effects on unborn children. As a result, identifying lead sources in the environments of dwellings and work places where young children, women, workers, and others spend time, is vital to safeguarding public health. Midwest Environmental Consulting, L.L.C. (MEC) staff have been providing lead inspection, project development and monitoring, and consultation services for over twenty years. The staff actively participates on committees that develop the rules, regulations, and standards for many of the lead environmental protocols currently in use. MEC staff provides training in safe lead work and inspection practices with Minnesota Department of Health approved courses.
A lead-based paint assessment prior to renovation assists building owners, managers, and contractors in determining whether lead is present and what controls and training are required to do the work. When lead is present, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard "Lead in Construction CFR 1926.62" regulates activities being performed by the employee. MEC also evaluated properties to meet the requirements of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) “Abrasive Blasting of Residential, Child Care Facilities and Schools, 7025.0010 to 7025.0080” and “Removal of Lead-Based Paint from Steel Structures, 7025.0200 – 7025.0380”. The assessment identifies the presence or absence of lead on surfaces that may be disturbed during a renovation, remodeling, demolition, or repair and maintenance work. This information allows the employer to plan the appropriate work procedures for the project and protect the employees and building occupants. The lead inspection information is useful in determining if lead waste is being generated above 1.0 milligrams per square centimeter (mg/cm2) or 0.5% by dry weight. If lead is present at these level or greater the waste generated may require special disposal if it is determined to be a hazardous waste. The work for this assessment can include the following: Using an XRF spectrum analyzer, the prefer method by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Housing Urban Development Administration, or collecting paint chips for laboratory analysis, to identify surfaces scheduled for disturbance. MEC uses the XRF spectrum analyzer following elements of the inspection HUD Guideline for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint in Target Property. The survey includes a room by room analysis of substrates by type, and color. The random base-line lead based paint inspection survey will not include all four walls of a room, and professional judgment of the licensed lead-inspector will be used following an evaluation of homogeneous materials that can reasonably be expected to have similar analysis results. The survey may also include other areas, at the discretion of the client.
Taking wipe samples of horizontal surfaces within the project area as a means of identifying current lead dust levels. This information helps clients and contractors keep lead dust levels within the properties to recommended clearance levels during and upon completion of the project. The information also identifies problem areas if they are present.
OSHA requires a negative exposure assessment of employees doing work on lead-containing surfaces. This assessment is necessary for tasks ranging from manual demolition, sanding, welding and cutting, to abrasive blasting. Air samples are collected from employees doing work to decide if they are above the action level.
Wipe sampling dust (duration and clearance) helps building owners and managers determine whether lead dust is contaminating other areas near the project work area and ensures that the project meets the recommended clearance level when it is completed.
Analyzing waste generated during the project. Lead is classified as a toxin by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some states require specific handling of debris if it is found to be a hazardous waste. The majority of waste generated during a renovation or remodeling project can probably be disposed of as general construction debris, but some small rubble, paint chips, HEPA vacuum waste and sweeping dust may require disposal as hazardous waste.
The client receives a final report giving the findings of the assessment.
MEC can provide Lead Hazard Reduction management and monitoring if the project is in response to an elevated blood lead level and/or the client has chosen to abate lead from the property. The client may wish to prevent lead dust hazards during a renovation, remodeling, demolition, or maintenance and repair project. The services are provided following a comprehensive lead inspection. The MEC guidance document includes:
Sample analysis and surface locations
Lead hazard reduction methods
Negative exposure assessment standards
Signs and access control procedures
Dust suppression and control methods
Work area and personal hygiene procedures
Testing and monitoring
Waste disposal procedures
Bidding requirements can be included when not referenced in an architect's specification or if the project is a specific lead abatement project
MEC can also provide project management during the project to evaluate work practices and act as the owner's representative to address any deviations between the project design and work practices. Important issues about work area hygiene and work area integrity can be monitored through randomly collecting dust samples during the project and upon completion of the work. MEC can evaluate the waste being generated during the project to decide whether it is general construction debris or hazardous waste. OSHA personal lead dust air samples can be collected from employees performing lead-related work activities.
This service is provided for public and Indian housing agencies or when an elevated blood lead level has been found in a child or pregnant woman. MEC follows the inspection criteria in the 1995 "Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Housing," revised Chapter 7 (1997), as well as the federal requirements, including 24 CFR Part 35 et.al, for federally-funded programs.
MEC uses the Niton7 XL X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Spectrum Analyzer for analyzing paint samples. The studies of the XRF units conducted by HUD and EPA are used as guidance documents while collecting and evaluating data collected by the XRF unit. The staff members assigned to the inspection are licensed and certified lead risk assessors trained and certified for the instrument.
The risk assessor initially meets with the housing manager to obtain a history of the housing units to be inspected. Information obtained during the interview can help the inspector develop a sampling strategy based on the age of the building, building products introduced into the building over the life of the building, scheduling times to minimize disruption to normal building activities, and ranking areas of concern.
The risk assessor decides whether soil samples should be collected from the property. If so, samples will be collected following the HUD guidelines, or state or local government requirements (whichever is most stringent).
The risk assessor evaluates the surfaces for damage, seeks causes for deteriorated surfaces, documents the extent of damage, the potential for further disturbance, and estimates surface areas containing lead-based paint.
MEC generates a final report including diagrams of sample locations and locations of surfaces containing lead-based paint.
A comprehensive Lead Risk Assessment is the most complete study of lead contamination. Beyond performing an inspection using the HUD guidance manual, this service includes reviewing lead-poisoned children, pregnant woman, or workers. The following are added components to the survey and assessment:
Evaluating work practices of family members to determine whether they are contributing to the lead poisoning. Painted furniture, folk remedies, water, dust, dishware, toys, and other properties are considered in the investigation process.
Soil samples are collected from areas of bare soil on the property and transported to a qualified lab for analysis.
Surfaces and substrate conditions are evaluated for damage and potential causes for the damage.
MEC generates a final report including drawings, photographs, sample results, findings and recommendations.
Potable water can be a contributing source of lead poisoning. Water in homes, schools, public, and private buildings should be evaluated for lead content. The EPA and some state agencies require or recommend evaluating water for lead every five years. Buildings constructed in the 1990's are still having plumbing fixtures with as much as 8% lead being installed for potable water.
MEC can assist clients by evaluating the plumbing system of a building, developing a sampling protocol, and making recommendations based on the findings. We can collect the samples, or we can provide instructions and materials for the client to collect the samples.
The Lead in Drinking Water report includes the following information:
Summary of the analytical procedure used
Laboratory results and certifications
Determination if results of water analysis require follow-up sampling
Recommendations to reduce the lead levels in potable water
Please contact MEC to discuss your current or future lead hazard service needs.
A lead-based paint assessment for refinancing or purchase of property helps interested parties obtain information about the presence of lead-based paint within the property they are about to invest in or purchase. The assessment provides an overview of the painted surfaces and conditions. For federally-funded property, MEC follows the requirements set forth in 24 CFR Part 35, et.al. The survey information can vary, depending on the policy of the organization requesting the investigation, but typically includes the following:
Apartment/office complexes. Ten units are randomly chosen. Each room in each unit is surveyed, collecting samples from each painted surface type. At least one common area (i.e., laundry, storage, hallway, stairwell, and garage) in each building is surveyed. Exterior painted surfaces are included, and randomly selected. The investigation includes information on paint condition, and closely reviews chewable surfaces below five feet.
Homes and scattered site housing. The Investigation includes the entire dwelling and exterior painted surfaces. The investigation focuses on surfaces below five feet.
A final report summarizes the survey information, lists the x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrum analyzer results, damaged surface areas, lead inspector license and certifications, diagrams of sample locations, and laboratory sample analysis, if required.