A new bill signed into law by Oregon Governor Kate Brown aims to protect public health through several procedural changes – including one amendment that will impact homeowners in Portland.
Senate Bill 64, also called the Oregon Health Authority’s public health housekeeping bill, provides updates to five areas of public health:
- Tobacco purchases (for people under the age of 21)
- Lead-based paint regulations
- Prescription drugs
- Public health
- School health
Under the new law, which takes effect in January of 2022, individuals and firms can no longer perform lead-based paint activities (such as lead paint testing and remediation) unless they are certified to do so by the Oregon Health Authority.
So, what does this mean for Portland homeowners? Here, we’ll take a deeper dive into the use of lead-based paints, the language included in the bill and how these changes may impact you.
Lead-Based Paint Activities
To understand the implications of Senate Bill 64, you first have to understand the history of lead paint and the risks associated with its use.
Prior to 1978, lead-based paint was considered a luxury that was often touted as being superior to non-lead paints. This was due to its durability and density, as only a small amount of paint was needed to cover a large surface.
The paint of choice during the Renaissance period in Europe, lead paint was shipped to the U.S. colonies and used by many professional painters during the early 1900s. It was created by hand-mixing oil with white lead, which provided a long-lasting finish, an accelerated drying time and a barrier against mold and other parasites. It is even reported that lead-based paint was used to paint the White House and Capitol building.
What Are the Risks Associated with Lead-Based Paint?
Lead-based paint provides health hazards that can ultimately pose a risk to human health. It is important to keep lead materials away from living spaces, especially those with children around. Surfaces that may be covered with lead-based paint are the easiest for children to reach and potentially breathe in. Cracked or peeling paint chips are easy to reach and just as easy for small children to ingest. Adults are just as vulnerable, especially pregnant women.
How Can I Tell If My Home Has Lead Paint?
In 1978, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of lead paint in homes. If your home was built before 1978, you should assume that lead is present. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that roughly 24 million housing units in the United States have “significant lead-based paint hazards,” with approximately 4 million of those units being home to young children.
Lead-based paint is often present under multiple layers of non-lead paint, as walls may have been repainted many times since the 1978 ban. If these layers of lead paint are in good condition, they may not pose health hazards. But if the paint is peeling, cracked, damaged or chipping, it can pose health risks.
Lead is also frequently found in water pipes and plumbing fixtures, which can cause it to enter your home’s drinking water. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this source of lead is most common in homes built prior to 1986 and in older cities that may have used lead piping to install service water lines.
Lead-Based Paint Testing and Removal
The only way to know for sure whether lead is present in your home is to have your home tested for lead. Lead paint testing can tell you how much lead is present in each painted area of your home, while lead water testing can inform you if there are dangerous levels of lead entering your drinking water.
While some home test kits are available, it is best to leave lead testing to a qualified professional who can handle the job safely and help you accurately interpret your results. If lead-based paint is found, it is almost always necessary to have it removed to protect you and your family.
Implications of Senate Bill 64
Now that you know the background of lead-based paints, you may be wondering how Senate Bill 64 comes into play. The bill puts tighter regulations on who can perform lead paint activities to ensure lead-safe work practices are used. The bill:
- Requires individual certification for any lead-based paint activities;
- Requires a firm to be certified if it’s performing a renovation for compensation; and
- Removes the option for an uncertified firm to perform or offer to perform lead-based paint activities under the supervision of a certified individual.
Both firms and individuals must be certified by the Oregon Health Authority, which has the power to regulate lead-based paint activities and to establish standards based on best practices as they relate to lead paint inspections, risk assessments and remediation.
For Portland homeowners, this means you should be mindful of who you hire to remediate lead-based paint, especially in older homes. Because lead can easily become airborne through dust from chipping paint, it’s important for you to hire someone who understands the necessary safety precautions to minimize further risk to you and your family.
Lead Paint Remediation in Portland, OR
The goal of Senate Bill 64 is to protect homeowners by ensuring that contractors who are performing lead-based paint activities inside their home are compliant with federal and local regulations. The bill is good news for homeowners who want peace of mind knowing their home is free of lead-based hazards.
If you are concerned lead paint may be present in your home, the next step is to schedule lead testing with a qualified professional. Alpha Environmental is certified in lead testing by the Oregon Health Authority and can test for lead both in your water system and in paint around your home. Contact us today to schedule your lead testing appointment, or call us at 503-406-6686 for more information.