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Get the lead out … and quick

By Jan Basina

I occasionally see lead abatement projects posted in JobTrac. And they almost always seem to scream “Warning. Warning.”

Lead Abatement at Two Residential Buildings – Phase 1 (HUD), La Crosse

Take the job in La Crosse, for instance, which is bidding Oct. 5. The work is described as window replacement, covering exterior components in aluminum, siding and paint stabilization at two residential sites.

Sounds safe enough. But read on …

“Bids WILL ONLY BE ACCEPTED from firms certified by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services as a lead company, with a lead abatement supervisor on staff. Bidders MUST SUBMIT with their bid material as necessary to substantiate they meet this requirement.”

That, for me, conjures up an image of men dressed in white jumpsuits, hermetically sealed from top to bottom. And anyone found lurking in the area without proper attire will be thrown in the decontamination chamber and forced to scrub clean.

Darrell Royalty (right), an instructor for the Milwaukee Lead/Asbestos Information Center Inc., tapes gloves to Jason McNett of Tucker Family Construction LLC, Brodhead, during a lead remediation course in Fitchburg recently. (File Photo by Henry A. Koshollek)

Darrell Royalty (right), an instructor for the Milwaukee Lead/Asbestos Information Center Inc., tapes gloves to Jason McNett of Tucker Family Construction LLC, Brodhead, during a lead remediation course in Fitchburg recently. (File Photo by Henry A. Koshollek)

They’re not fooling around … and well they shouldn’t.

The insidious enemy is lead poisoning. It attacks children in a variety of ways — reduced IQ, impaired growth, learning disabilities, hearing loss and a list of other health and behavioral problems.

Lead-based paint can be found in homes and daycares built before 1978. Dangers of lead-based paint lie under the surface in properties that have been neglected or where renovations were done without using lead-safe work practices.

But now state and federal agencies have reloaded to combat lead poisoning.

In an effort to eradicate this crippling disease, the state, in April, enacted its Lead Certification Policy with regulations that vary somewhat from the federal mandate.

But because of heightened interest in the new lead-safe renovation rule, Wisconsin has been forced to extend its deadline for processing applications. The normal less-than-10-day application processing time has been increased. And a temporary certification policy is now in place that allows contractors to continue to work while waiting to receive their company or individual lead certifications from the Department of Health Services (when this policy is no longer in place information will be placed on the department’s website).

Contractors have always been aware of the dangers of lead paint. But now with increased emphasis on compulsory state programs, contractors may be better armed to finally fight the battle against lead paint.

And maybe someday soon eliminate altogether this potential danger from our dwellings.

Jan Basina is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at (414) 225-1817.

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