1,1996, both the
Protection Agency (EPA) and the
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued new guidance and
an alert, respectively, concerning hazards to children from lead-based
paint on playground equipment and in soil. This Bulletin summarizes
the important findings and recommendations contained in the aforementioned
guidance and alert documents.
Both the CPSC and EPA tested playground
equipment and/or soil at select facilities around the country and found
lead-based paint in various states of condition. In 1978, the CPSC
banned the sale of lead paint containing more than 0.06% lead by weight
intended for consumer use. The CPSC is currently using the 0.5% lead
by weight level, consistent with EPA and the Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD), in making decisions on controlling the
most significant lead paint hazards.
Lead poisoning is one of the most common
environmental health problems for children today. It is especially
dangerous to children six years of age or younger and can result in
reduced attention span, behavioral problems, reduced IQ, learning disabilities,
hearing problems and slowed growth. Outside play areas may contain
equipment with chipping or peeling lead-based paint, which along with
soil, may be ingested by children putting their hands in their mouths.
Neither the CPSC or EPA have specific data documenting any cases of
poisoning associated with lead-based paint in playgrounds. They state
that risks from deteriorating paint would be similar to lead-based
paint on the exterior of residential structures. The risk to children
would be negligible as long as the paint is intact.
The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) recommends that local authorities obtain
the CPSC "Staff Recommendations for Identifying & Controlling
Lead Paint in Public Playground Equipment", the EPA Addendum "Guidance
on Lead-based Paint, Lead-Contaminated Dust & Lead-Contaminated
Soil" and follow the guidance provided in addressing lead hazards
in playgrounds. This includes conducting an assessment of playground
equipment considering: condition of the paint, age, use & maintenance.
Equipment paint which is cracking, peeling or chalking should be prioritized
for inspection and sampling. Paint and soil samples should be analyzed
by an EPA accredited laboratory. Deteriorated paint with a lead content
at or above 0.5% should be removed by a NJ certified Lead Abatement
Contractor in accordance with NJ Department of Community Affairs regulations,
or the equipment replaced. Equipment with intact lead-based paint does
not require immediate replacement or removal, but should be maintained
and monitored to ensure a non-hazardous condition. Playground soil
should be tested for lead when paint on the equipment is deteriorating
or there is evidence that the soil lead level may be elevated (e.g.,
urban areas, local industrial sources, other area tests, elevated blood-lead
levels). EPA guidance, published on Sept. 11, 1995, provides protocols
for soil sampling and recommends response actions appropriate for varying
levels of contamination. If levels of lead in soil are elevated (400-5000ppm),
interim controls such as placement of mulch, wood chips, sand or gravel
around the equipment should be done. All interim measures require maintenance
and monitoring to ensure effectiveness. Relocation of play equipment
is an option and long-term measures may include soil abatement.
For information on how to contact the DOH, or other organizations mentioned in this article, please refer to the Indoor Environments Contacts page.