Lead has long been recognized as a harmful environmental pollutant. In late 1991, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services called lead the “number one environmental threat to the health of children in the United States.” There are many ways in which humans are exposed to lead: through air, drinking water, food, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint, and dust. Airborne lead enters the body when an individual breathes or swallows lead particles or dust once it has settled. Before it was known how harmful lead could be, it was used in paint, gasoline, water pipes, and many other products.
Old lead-based paint is the most significant source of lead exposure in the U.S. today. Harmful exposures to lead can be created when lead-based paint is improperly removed from surfaces by dry scraping, sanding, or open-flame burning. High concentrations of airborne lead particles in homes can also result from lead dust from outdoor sources, including contaminated soil tracked inside, and use of lead in certain indoor activities such as soldering and stained-glass making.
The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division is responsible for developing and implementing lead certification and abatement regulations for child-occupied facilities and target housing, as mandated by state statute (25-5-1101 C.R.S., et seq.). The statute governs the inspection and assessment of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards, lead-contaminated soil and lead-contaminated dust, and the abatement of lead-based paint hazards.
The Colorado State Legislature has adopted the concept of “lead-safe” housing instead of “lead-free” housing. Commensurate with this concept, the goal of the state regulations will not be the removal of all lead-based paint, but the creation of housing and facilities where no significant lead-based paint hazard is present.