Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lead Paint: What Next?

Sorry it's been a whole week. I'm sure you've been waiting with bated breath! It's been pretty hectic around here.

Even while writing last week's blog, wondering what to do, I was already springing into action. As soon as I realized 1) what the contractors was doing was indeed against the law, and 2) that our neighbor wouldn't be held liable—only the contractors—I called the EPA to report the violation of the RRP rule.

I was pleasantly surprised to get the name and contact info for a specific person. Even more surprising, when I called the number she actually picked up! She told me what she would need in terms of documentation; I promised to send pictures and dutifully did so that night. (The picture above is of our neighbor's house and flower bed, which is directly next to our driveway, partly visible at the bottom of the image.) We tried to talk to our neighbor a few times that night, but he was out. Luckily, I caught him on his way to work the next morning and explained the whole situation.

He called his contractors, told them what was going on, and told them to stay away until the situation was resolved. Instead of doing that, they came over and "cleaned up," which involved using a leaf blower (totally illegal and just a really bad idea) and getting paint chips even more scattered throughout the yard. At this point I was so twitchy from silently putting up with them for nearly two weeks, I was gearing up to go outside and tell them myself to stop and just leave the premises. Luckily, I guess they felt like they'd cleaned enough because they stopped of their own accord before I got out there, and then it was blissfully quiet, at least for a little bit.

I called the lead abatement contractor that had done our siding and replaced many of our windows, with whom we were very pleased. He said that he could have a crew out by the following Tuesday (two days ago), and that our yard could be completely cleaned up in time for Eleanor's birthday party (two days hence). Hearing that was a huge relief, because clearly we couldn't have nearly a dozen kids over to play with the paint chips, but I had no idea where else we were going to go on such short notice.

After getting that sorted out, Keith and I talked about what else we ourselves would need to do. We decided that we needed to wipe down the hard surfaces outside (porches, yard furniture, Eleanor's outdoor toys) and clean inside, top to bottom: vacuuming, mopping, and wiping down EVERYTHING—including every single one of Eleanor's toys—to get rid of any potential lead dust. We'd tried to keep the windows closed while the contractors were working, but we couldn't be completely certain that we'd kept 100% of the lead dust out.

My parents very kindly took Eleanor all day Saturday so Keith and I could clean. By Sunday night, I think we'd finished nearly everything. Today, I'm vacuuming and mopping one more time, in case we tracked in any more lead dust from the yard before it was cleaned on Tuesday. We also changed the furnace filter and the contractor vacuumed out the air conditioner.

Oh, did I mention that we're hosting a birthday party with 30+ people on Saturday? And clearing out the former study, painting and furnishing it to be Eleanor's new big girl room, all at the same time? It's been a long week.

That's probably more detail than you needed, but there it is. I felt the need to list and catalog every single step we've taken to minimize the damage, in the hopes that talking about it will make it more effective, I think. I'd like to believe that we've done all we can; I hope it's enough.

The final test, literally, will be when Eleanor and I both go to doctor's appointments next week and get our lead levels checked. Hopefully, all this madness ends there. The contractors first came on Saturday, July 2. It's been a long month, and I'm looking forward to a laid-back August.

I do have to say, without the blog, I'm not sure what would have happened. I only started researching the latest changes in the lead laws because I was writing a rant blog about how frustrated and helpless I felt. If it hadn't been for blogging about it, I'm not sure I would have investigated what options I did have. So thanks to you all for reading and giving me a reason to write!


Andrea said...

Ah! I guess I should have read this entry before I commented on the previous one. :-)

Soooo glad you got ahold of the appropriate person and action is being taken! That paint contractor should have known better.

M. Lubbers said...

That's okay. Any and all advice is welcome!:)

The general consensus is, indeed, that the painting contractor should have known better. Fingers crossed the next ones will .... since the house is now scraped but not painted.