Study shows that the majority of children poisoned by lead during renovations were poisoned by their own parents doing the work.
According to Medscape Today, investigations conducted during 2006-2007 in New York state (excluding New York City) for 972 children with Blood Lead Levels (BLLs) ≥20 µg/dL, RRP activities were identified as the probable source of lead exposure in 139 (14%) of the 972 children. Resident owners or tenants performed 66% of the RRP work that was determined to have caused the poisoning, which often included sanding and scraping (42%), removal of painted materials or structures (29%), and other activities (29%) that can release particles of lead-based paint. Although this study only included one state, we can probably assume other states with older housing would likely have similar findings.
From this information we can deduct the following. 86% or 836 of the poisoned children were poisoned by exposure to lead in some way other than RRP activities. Also, of the children proven to be poisoned by RRP activities, 92 were poisoned by their own parents doing the renovation work, leaving a total of 47 children poisoned by RRP activities performed by someone other than their parents. The study did not specify who these others were. It is likely that most would be renovation companies, but a good number could also have been landlords or property developers doing their own work.
Although I agree renovators should be required to work lead-safe, I suggest that the RRP rule falls way too short in preventing lead poisoning. Allowing home owners and tenants to do RRP work without the knowledge and proper training required should be considered a travesty. Without understanding how lead poisoning happens and how to perform the work in a lead-safe manner, these parents are often unknowingly poisoning their children.
Sadly, many children are also poisoned by dads and moms who do RRP work for a living. Read this blog for a true story about a contractor who, while attending the required certified renovator training, panicked when he discovered he might be poisoning his own children. I wonder how many of the 972 children in the study mentioned above might have been poisoned by hugging their daddy when he got home from work. I know this happened at my home when I was working in the field. The good news is that the story is evidence that education can make a difference when it comes to preventing lead poisoning.