Most new homeowners and renters are not even aware that the home they are about to purchase or rent may contain lead paint, particularly if it was built before 1978.
The problem is: Lead is known to cause damage to your brain and nervous system, particularly in pregnant women and children under six years old. Even small amounts can be dangerous, as lead builds up in your body over time.
More than half of Maine homes may have lead paint. Exposure to lead is most common in buildings built before 1950 (when paint contained up to 50% lead), and in buildings built before 1978 when repainting or remodeling is done.
In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule for home improvement contractors and maintenance professionals who renovate or repair pre-1978 housing, child care facilities or schools. The rule required that by April, 2010, contractors and maintenance professionals be certified, that their employees be trained, and that they follow protective lead-safe work practice standards.
However, a 2015 investigation by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, found that the law had rarely been enforced by painting companies. “This law has been in place for seven years, yet the problem is the state only has three or four agents to oversee all of the painting contractors in Maine,” said Peter Berke, owner of North Atlantic Painting. “That’s just not enough oversight to enforce it.”
That, of course, leads to abuses in the industry, where painting companies don’t adhere to the strict lead removal practices.
So why does North Atlantic Painting follow the regulations then?
“We bother with the law because it directly affects our kids and our future,” said Berke, a father of two.
“Toddlers who are teething and learning how to walk, might come across a windowsill and bite it, because lead is sweet. Children are attracted to sweet things, and it’s the easiest way to ingest it,” said Berke. “Kids in lead-exposed homes are susceptible to being poisoned, which may affect their cognitive abilities in early childhood development. It may affect their capacity to learn and grow.”
Lead removal is not something crews can just “wing it,” yet untrained ones do. When a person has been properly trained through a lead removal course and certified, he or she has to work through an extensive punch list in lead removal and it requires meticulous attention to each item on the list. Our crew has been trained to follow every item of lead removal on that list to the best of their ability.
“We have a copy of my paint certification, my federal certification as well as a sample contract on file for anyone interested in hiring us,” said Berke.
This is just one more way North Atlantic Painting has been working to educate the public to protect your best interests.