The US EPA continues to regulate lead-based paint in target housing and child occupied facilities. EPA’s focus in addressing lead poisoning has shifted from removal toward management of lead-based paint hazards. Recent studies regarding lead exposure may lead to expanded areas of regulation.

The effects of lead exposure are well documented. Acute symptoms include colic, shock, severe anemia, acute nervousness, kidney damage, an irreversible brain damage. Chronic exposure can cause severe brain damage, kidney damage, and damage to blood forming systems. Lead is gametotoxic, causing sterility, and embroyotoxic, causing abortions and still births. High blood lead levels in pregnant women may result in postnatal mental retardation. Lead exposure symptoms are magnified in children. Elevated blood lead levels were previously believed to be related to external lead exposure. However, recent studies have unexpectedly demonstrated the potential severity of lea exposure in fetuses of pregnant women.

One such study involved extensive mining ore deposits from a Rocky Mountain Superfund site. Blood lead levels were studied in relation to exposure to the ore deposits. Findings from the study were presented by the US EPA in an October 1999 seminar in Chicago, Illinois. Due to their similar physiology to humans, pigs were selected as the subjects for the study. The study found that blood lead levels in pregnant pigs were magnified by 4 to 10 times in the fetal pigs. Based on the findings, US EPA is reassessing potential lead exposure scenarios.

RT expects that future regulation of lead-based paint may be expanded to include facilities which may be occupied by pregnant woman. Property owners and managers of facilities constructed prior to 1978 (when lead-based paint was banned in residential paint) should be prepared, in the future, to have a lead-based paint inspection/risk assessment completed by a licensed individual.

Property managers, landlords and developers should expect more demand from tenants (even commercial tenants) for "Lead Safe" demised premises.  For more information, call Chris Eyre at (856) 467-2276.