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Lead law logic??

buckharmon's picture

Lead law logic?? (post #196806)

I recently reproduced a new porch system on a circa 1890 brick home. All new material. This house is located on Main St. in a small town in Maryland. Several weeks after the porch project had been completed the State started a Main St. Revitalization project. Phase one of the road project entailed the milling of 14" of the built up road surface. When this milling was done, black dust caused by the process layered the entire facade of all buildings and associated outdoor items. I was made aware of this when the client that I built the porch for contacted me for advise as to how she should go about cleaning the dust from fresh white paint ( less than 30 days). I stopped by to have a look and was really concerned by the amount of dirt that the road milling had created. When I touched it with my finger rather than brush off, it smudged with a bit of a sheen. Looked a little like lead, so I took out my lead test kit and tested 6 locations on the brand new work. All positive for lead content. Realizing that false positives do exist, I went to the local building supply and purchased  a new , different type of test. All tests from this kit were lead positive as well. I walked up and down Main St. to find that every surface tested had lead content.

Turns out that the road milling process churned up dirt and dust that contained microfine lead that had accumulated over the years that gasoline had lead in it. Lead was removed from gasoline at about the same time that it was removed from paint production. With asphalt road overlays the emissions dust became encapsulated and not a problem. Currently, the standard for roadway revitalization is the mill and replace technique. When I questioned the EPA, and the Maryland Highway Administration for direction as to what advise I should give to my client, the EPA told me that there are no laws that apply to road milling and therefore, no means of enforcement. The State of Maryland had a spokesperson contact me to inform me that they do not currently, and have never added lead to their asphalt mixes. Duh... They would not recommend a cleaning technique.

Whats a responsible contractor to do??

Buck Harmon

Buck (post #196806, reply #1 of 3)

Man, you have unearthed (or been dug into quite a.................or could be) a national concern.  Considering the current lead safe work practices and their impact on our trades, this is certainly something that should at the least be broadcast to the public.

What's good for the goose sort of scenario if we are to believe the ramifications to the health and pocketbooks of ourselves and our customers.

At the least you should make contact with someone in the media I would think.  Especially if you could get some real testing verification (besides a lead test kit we are familiar with via Certified Renovators instruction.

Bravo on even thinking to test.

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


Lead Dust (post #196806, reply #2 of 3)

Since most work of that type is usually  put out on bid, I think that the contractor doing it is responsible for any clean up, but in the PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF MARYLAND that may not apply!

"If all else fails, read the directions"

There probably are laws that cover the fugitive dust emmisions (post #196806, reply #3 of 3)

While the EPA and HUD lead rules are probably not applicable, I am fairly certain that either the state or federal EPA have laws that cover fugitive dust emissions. 

Don't approach it as a lead issue but a fugitive dust issue, and since the dust containes leads over the threshold value it is most probably covered. 

The neighborhood needs to start a class action suit now, ( and I do hate lawyers, but they are useful).