Lead-Containing Materials Management
Lead is a toxic heavy metal that was commonly added to paint during its manufacture prior to 1978. Lead added strength and durability to paint, and lead compounds were used in color-producing pigments. In 1978, lead was banned in most types of paint. Facilities constructed from 1950 to 1978 may have lead-containing paint while facilities constructed before 1950 have a high probability of having lead-containing paint.
Paint that contains lead can be a health hazard if it becomes deteriorated, damaged, or is disturbed during remodel, renovation, or maintenance without proper controls in place. The dust generated by the disturbance can contain lead that when airborne can be inhaled. Dust may also enter your body by ingestion from contaminated hands or items or eating paint chips. Once inhaled or ingested, lead can be transported by blood to target organs. Elevated accumulations of lead in your body may likely lead to health problems such as reproductive organ disorders, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nervous system disorders, memory and concentration problems, and muscle and joint pain. Lead is even more hazardous and detrimental to young children, immune-compromised people, and women who are pregnant.
The key to minimizing exposure is keeping the paint intact. Intact lead-containing paint is not a hazard because lead stays embedded in the paint and is not being dislodged in to the air or deposited on the ground. If lead-containing paint needs to be impacted by construction or maintenance activities, staff/contractors are required to capture all dust generated through use of enclosures, ventilation systems, HEPA vacuums, or other methods.
EHS is responsible for testing paint in facilities built prior to 1978 in cases where it is reported to be deteriorated, damaged, or otherwise failing, as well as areas where remodel, repair, or other construction is planned. Identified lead-containing paint can then be handled correctly and safely by trained staff or contractors performing the work. If you notice failing paint in a UI facility, please report the issue to EHS. EHS will respond quickly and test the paint for lead. Identified failing lead-containing paint will be reported to Facilities for remediation.