For Immediate Release: June 30, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
BURLINGTON – Beginning July 1, new provisions take effect that will strengthen Vermont’s existing lead law (18 V.S.A. § 1759) to prevent lead poisoning.
New provisions apply to homes and rental properties built before 1978:
- Homeowners will be required to use lead-safe renovation, remodeling, maintenance and repair practices.
- Sellers of houses and rental properties must provide information to buyers as part of the selling process.
- Landlords and child care facilities must comply with new requirements for maintenance practices.
Lead dust is the main source of lead exposure in Vermont, and the new legislation (H. 863) will prevent and prohibit activities that create lead hazards in the soil around older homes. Nearly 70 percent of Vermont homes were built before 1978 — including 112,000 owner-occupied units and 56,000 rental housing units. The law has new requirements for landlords and child care facilities, and new enforcement authority for the Health Department.
“Vermont continues to pursue a more aggressive approach to lead poisoning prevention, not just for rental properties and contractors, but for individual homeowners as well,” said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. "Lead is a public health hazard that is preventable. The damage it can cause to children and adults is serious and permanent. We will do everything possible to eliminate risk.”
In 2006, nearly 2,000 Vermont children had blood lead levels at or above the level of concern established by the Vermont Department of Health. Most children become poisoned by eating lead-paint dust from their hands, toys, or other objects that they put in their mouths. Elevated levels put children at risk for learning disabilities, behavior problems, decreased intelligence and poisoning. Elevated blood lead levels in adults can damage the nervous system, renal, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems.
Beginning July 1, sellers must provide buyers with information packets and complete a disclosure form for buyers both before, and at the time of, the sale. Landlords also must provide lead education materials for new tenants. The required forms are available for download from the Health Department website at healthvermont.gov.
The law also prohibits removing paint by dry scraping, open flame burning or torching, heat guns over 1,100° F, machine sanding or grinding. Water-blasting, high-pressure washing, abrasive blasting or chemical stripping are also prohibited. Other new requirements include misting paint surfaces before scraping, and wetting paint debris before sweeping.
Landlords have new requirements relating to “essential maintenance practices” or EMPs and are encouraged to attend a free essential maintenance practices training. The training schedule can be found at: leadsafevermont.org.
The Health Department will continue to work with the Attorney General’s Office to ensure that Vermonters comply with the new law. Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, the Health Department will issue citations and impose civil penalties up to $400 on landlords and child care facilities that fail to comply with the essential maintenance practice requirements.
“The Vermont Department of Health will continue to expand its education, outreach and prevention efforts — with the goal of zero for number of lead-exposed children,” said Moffatt.
For more information on lead poisoning in Vermont and a list of lead safe practices and requirements, visit the Department of Health’s website at healthvermont.gov.