So a few days ago I went to a “Train the Trainer” course for the new lead safety rules that are going to be imposed by the US EPA as of April 22. It seemed a wise thing to do, seeing as it will likely have a substantial impact on preservation issues. Also, as many restoration/rebuild projects as I have done, I have honestly never paid much attention to Lead safe practices, so I figured it would be a good thing to know. Fortunately, one thing I learned is that children 6 and under are much more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults, so I think I’ve got a few years left in me. And, of course, it’s all about me.
Preservationists, remodeling professionals, and deconstruction advocates really need to start paying attention to these new laws as they will raise the cost of repairs and restoration projects by a substantial amount, and may also impact the existing warehouse stock of materials used for restoration and rebuilding. The class I took was only eight hours long and there we only had time to cover about 1/10th the amount of material that was in the manual, so I am still trying to figure out where the lines are drawn in terms of project size, regulation, etc., but it sure does seem that the EPA is tightening up regulations in a very major way. If there is existing lead paint on stock materials, they may well have to go bye-bye and into a hazardous waste landfill (vs. a typical landfill, which will add yet another added expense). Also, any time a contractor is hired to do work–even minor things like window removal and adjustment, they will have to be certified as someone who practices Lead safe practices and may well have to quarantine themselves into the room that they are working on, wear a full body plastic suit, mask, goggles, two layers of gloves…the whole bit. For real. So this will obviously take some getting used to, and preservationists and deconstruction advocates will have to find creative ways to deal with this issue.
As I mentioned, I am still learning what all of the restrictions and protocol will be as of April, but wanted to give readers a taste of what they can expect. I am sitting here going through my enormous Lead Safety for Renovation, Repair, and Painting binder (this is referred to as RRP for short, by the way), and thought that to make the list of needed “safe practice” supplies more digestible, I would call upon my undergraduate creative writing education and provide you with a poem. Glad that degree is still serving me. This is perhaps the worst poem I have ever written–and this includes my 15 and 16-year old angsty years where every other poem featured either the word “crimson” or “abyss”–but what the hell.
Barriers, Signs, Entry Doors
When you said that you needed me to leave,
When you said that you wanted clearance,
When you put the barrier tape
Around your heart,
I had no choice but to leave this toxic space,
cover the furniture, leave the dust of our lives
whirling behind me.
Oh, the warning signs were carved around me–
Utility knives, razor blades, scissors,
I simply could not move past the thick, plastic sheeting
That encompassed me. Us.
You think that you can close up all the windows and doors,
keep me away with
Duct tape, masking tape, painter’s tape, staples?
Watch me raise up the broom handle in a protest of your defiance.
Watch me sweep you off your feet.
(Actually, a HEPA vacuum would be considerably more effective)