What do you do if you find a lead hazard?

Abatement    =   an activity designed to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards

Remediation =  interim control to minimize lead hazards

Ideally, all lead hazards would be permanently abated whenever discovered.  However, lead abatement, which often involves replacing windows, can be very costly.  In communities with low housing stock, the cost of abatement may be higher than the value of the property. Remediation through interim controls, can be significantly more cost effective than abatement.  However, interim control measures for lead hazards will eventually fail, exposing residents to lead hazards. According to Gary Kirkmire, Interim Commissioner of the City of Rochester’s Department of Neighborhood & Business Development, “Paint stabilization for interim controls only lasts on average two to three years.”

  • Detroit’s lead program permits landlords to address lead hazards through either interim controls or abatement. If hazards are addressed through abatement, units must be inspected annually.  If hazards are abated, rental units must be inspected every three years. Tying the length of time between inspections to the method of addressing the violation is a best practice.
  • Rochester, New York rejected a lead abatement requirement based on estimated costs.  According to Professor Katrina Korfmacher’s account in her book, Bridging Silos, “the 2002 Center for Governmental Research needs assessment report estimated the total cost to make Rochester lead-safe was between $605 million and $5.6 billion. These figures were based on per-unit costs of $7,556 to make a unit leadsafe and up to $70,000 for complete rehabilitation, respectively.”  

In addition to requiring abatement or interim controls, local programs should consider requiring lead-safe work practices.

  • Rochester, New York requires those doing remediation to use lead-safe work practices: 
No person shall disturb or remove lead-based paint, or in any other way generate excessive dust or debris during work on the interior or exterior of any existing building or structure except in accordance with the requirements of this Section and Sections 90-59 and 90-60. If a residential building is not owner occupied and is in the high risk area, then the owner or the owner’s agent will be required to complete certified Lead Safe Work Practices training prior to conducting any lead paint reduction activity provided that such training is available to the public for free or at a nominal cost, and except that such training shall not be required with respect to paint hazards below the de minimis levels identified in Section 90- 60, paragraph E.