Enforcing the Law to Protect Children from Lead Poisoning

Years ago, when I needed to have my house painted, I called local contractors to submit bids for the work. My daughter was four years old at the time, and so I was acutely aware about dangers of lead paint exposure. It can cause a range of health issues, including behavioral disorders, learning disabilities and other serious problems, putting young children at the greatest risk as their nervous systems are still developing. So I paid close attention to the bids to make sure the one I chose would be lead-safe.  In those days, finding a lead-safe contractor wasn’t easy.

But today, it’s easier. Other families shared the same concern I had, prompting the adoption of new regulations for lead safe practices in 2010. EPA is working to protect children from lead poisoning by enforcing these regulations. A case in point: Today we’ve announced a major settlement that requires Lowe’s Home Centers to enact a corporate-wide compliance program to ensure that the contractors it hires to perform work in customers’ homes follow the law and protect children from lead paint exposure. Lowe’s is taking responsibility to police the contractors it hires, which we think sends an important message to renovation companies across the country: Follow the rules on lead-safe practices and make sure the contractors you hire do the same.

The settlement requires Lowe’s to only hire contractors that have been properly certified by EPA to do work in homes built before 1978, as well as any child-occupied facilities like day-care centers and preschools. Lowe’s will make sure its contractors keep up their certification and use lead-safe work practices. This means setting up the job site safely, taking precautions to minimize dust and cleaning up thoroughly afterwards. Lowe’s will also suspend any contractors not following the federal requirements.

We wouldn’t have achieved this settlement if not for tips from the public. When concerned citizens noticed that Lowe’s contractors were not following lead-safe work practices, they reported it, leading to EPA’s investigation and eventual enforcement action. If you see contractors not following lead-safe practices, please let us know by submitting a tip through http://epa.gov/tips/.

I was careful to make sure my daughter was protected from lead contamination when I had home renovation work done. EPA is doing the same for your family by enforcing the law and insisting on lead-safe practices by all contractors. You can help by following the simple rule to avoid the dangers of lead poisoning: When you’re hiring workers for home renovations, look for the “Lead-Safe” logo on websites, uniforms and signs.

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