July 29, 2004

Washington's new paint law gets the lead out

  • CTED will lecense individuals and firms that work with lead-based paint.
    Prezant Associates


    Governor Gary Locke signed the new state lead-based paint law on June 10.

    The state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED) will oversee the program. CTED will control licensing of training providers, who conduct certified lead worker, supervisor, inspector, risk assessor and project designer classes. In addition to the training providers, CTED will control licensing for individuals and firms who engage in lead-based paint activities.

    Both EPA and individual states have been addressing training and licensing issues related to lead-based paint for a number of years.

    U.S. Housing and Urban Development also has rigid training and licensing requirements for its housing projects whenever lead-based paint is disturbed — whether it is small remodeling projects or full-scale abatement projects involving large multi-family units.

    Why all of the regulations? Because there is no purpose for lead in the human body.

    Health impacts from lead

    Lead poisoning can affect anyone — young, old, male or female.

    Children under 6 years old are at highest risk of serious and long-lasting health effects. Permanent damage to the brain stem, anemia, and impaired physical and mental growth can occur in young children with very small quantities of lead. Even 100 mg (about one grain of sugar in volume) of lead per deciliter (about one half cup) of blood can place a young child at risk of death!

    Children usually ingest lead in the form of dust or paint chips, caused by either deteriorated paint or activities that cause disturbance to painted surfaces. Very young children will often chew on window sills and protruding wood trim during the teething process.

    Unfortunately, lead has a sweet taste. Once a child chews into a lead-painted surface and tastes the sweetness — why not return for more?

    The best protection for children is to identify the lead source and then perform cleaning, removal, encapsulation or other measures to prevent access to lead in dust and paint chips, or chewable surfaces.

    While children are usually considered the highest at-risk group, adults can also be impacted by elevated blood-lead levels. Adults usually acquire lead through inhalation as they work on construction, demolition, remodeling and renovation projects. Some adult hobbies, such as melting lead for fishing sinkers and bullets, can expose them to fumes as the lead is melted and poured into molds. Other potential lead sources include older plumbing (solder) systems, leaded gasoline residue, industrial sites (smelters) and batteries.

    Health impacts of lead poisoning/exposure on adults can include fatigue, loss of appetite, reduced sex drive, infertility, low birth weight for newborns of expectant mothers, anemia, coma and even death.

    Protection for adults who are or may be exposed to lead in their workplaces is best accomplished through training, proper engineering controls and work practices, and good hygiene (decontamination) practices.

    EPA and state lead licensing

    Training providers, which are firms and individuals licensed through EPA Region X, will be able to grandfather their existing licenses into the state CTED program by filing the appropriate paperwork without paying a fee until their next renewal date. Forms and documents for the grandfather provisions may be found at

    Firms and individuals who are not licensed through EPA will need to acquire their licenses directly through the CTED program. This will involve taking the appropriate class from an approved training provider, passing a final exam, submitting proof of completion with a CTED form and passport-type photos and, in some cases, taking an additional CTED-scheduled examination.

    Individuals who wish to become lead supervisors, risk assessors and project designers must also meet certain prerequisites to be eligible to take those courses.

    CTED staff members are available at (360) 725-2941.

    While the existing EPA rules have been followed closely, CTED licensing procedures and forms will be somewhat different. The CTED licensing fees will also be different than EPA's.

    The state program will not affect any tribal land projects in Washington state. Those projects will remain under the direct control of EPA Region X. If a firm or individual wishes to conduct lead-based paint activities on any tribal lands and other, non-tribal lands within the state, both EPA Region X and Washington state licenses/credentials will be required.

    The entire text of the new state lead-based paint law (WAC 365-230) can be found at, follow links to lead Based Paint Program. Any firm or individual considering activities involving lead-based paint should review this law in order to understand the required training, licensing and testing that must be completed before conducting those activities.

    In addition, firms and individuals will want to acquire a copy of WAC 296-155-176 (lead in Construction) to understand WISHA's worker safety requirements. Copies are available online at or at any regional labor and Industries office.

    Robert Welch is the director of training at Prezant Associates and a member of the CTED lead Task Force. Welch has created curricula for all five lead courses, and EPA Region X has granted training provider approval for all of Prezant's certified lead courses.

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