|ASTM International Supports Public Health with Standards on Lead Hazards Associated with Buildings
Within ASTM International Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings, Subcommittee E06.23 on Lead Hazards Associated with Buildings develops and maintains a comprehensive suite of standards that help building managers, consultants, contractors, and government agencies identify, evaluate, and control lead hazards.
These standards address an important public health concern. The serious and widespread hazard that lead in buildings poses for children under 6 years of age has been recognized for decades. Prior to 1970, lead was used in many premium paints to provide superior physical properties. When leaded paint is damaged or deteriorated, it produces paint chips and elevated levels of lead in dust and soil, all of which young children may accidentally ingest. Although paint sold for residential use now contains very little lead, many pre-1970 buildings still harbor leaded paint that is often badly deteriorated.
Lead has toxic effects on many organs. It accumulates in the body and is only slowly eliminated. Severe overexposures can cause brain damage and death. At lower levels of overexposure, lead produces symptoms such as colic, headaches, irritability, and insomnia, which can readily be mistaken for minor ailments. Even without noticeable symptoms, lead can interfere with proper neurological development in children, producing subtle deficiencies in cognition and behavior, which again may be attributed to other causes. Children up to the age of 6 years (and prior to birth) are especially vulnerable to lead because their nervous systems are developing rapidly, they accidentally swallow paint chips, dust, and soil because of hand-to-mouth activity, and they absorb a high proportion of the lead they do swallow. While exposures that cause severe and overt symptoms of lead poisoning are now rare, lower levels of overexposure are unfortunately still common in some poorer urban neighborhoods. Children outside these neighborhoods are also at risk, especially where older houses are being renovated and upgraded.
Since the early 1970s, the federal and many state governments have put regulations and programs in place to reduce lead hazards in buildings. In 1988, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was directed to prepare guidelines for testing and abating lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards, which were first published in 1990 and revised in 1995.
Meeting National Needs
Subcommittee E06.23 was founded in 1991 at HUD’s request to provide national consensus standards for identifying and abating lead hazards. The newly formed subcommittee responded to this challenge with exceptional vigor. During its first 10 years, E06.23 was one of ASTM International’s most active and responsive subcommittees, often meeting four times a year with countless ballots circulated on tight schedules between meetings. Although the pace of E06.23’s activities has diminished because so many of the needed standards have now been issued, it remains active today. Members represent a wide range of professions, including consulting, chemistry, building technology, public health, and industrial hygiene.
The members identified their initial priorities as test and measurement methods, laboratory accreditation, abatement methods, and a standard terminology. The subcommittee’s scope soon expanded to include risk assessment. In response to further federal legislation in 1992 that placed an increased emphasis on controlling lead hazards, the scope grew to encompass all aspects of lead hazard identification and management.
An Array of Standards
Subcommittee E06.23 has developed and continues to maintain the 28 standards listed in Table 1. The standards include test and measurement methods for lead in paint, dust, soil and air for both fixed-laboratory and field-portable use. The methods include the use of portable X-ray fluorescence instruments and chemical spot test kits as well as quantitative sample collection, preparation, and analysis methods.
The standards also include practices for evaluating the quality systems of organizations that perform lead hazard assessment work. There are also practices for evaluating the performance of X-ray fluorescence instruments, spot test kits and field-portable electroanalytical instruments.
Three standards provide specifications and selection guidance for encapsulating coatings used in abatement.
The subcommittee has developed detailed practices for assessing lead hazards, choosing among control methods, ensuring post-abatement clearance, selecting samples for hazardous waste determinations, and record-keeping.
Finally, Guide E 2052 is an umbrella standard for all aspects of lead hazard management that provides a programmatic framework within which to apply the other standards.
Current work items are a draft standard to determine the lead content remaining in substrates after leaded paint is removed and the consolidation of sample preparation methods into one encompassing standard. A possible future work item is a guide for worker protection from lead exposures generated at construction worksites.
The subcommittee has supported the publication of the three ASTM International books listed in Table 2. MNL 38 is a detailed handbook that guides the user in developing a comprehensive lead hazard management program.
Members of E06.23 have been active in arranging and making presentations at numerous lead conferences and at other national conferences such as the annual American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, including six sessions at AIHCE 2002. Members arranged and helped present a full-day professional development course at AIHCE 2001, “Lead Hazard Evaluation and Control in Buildings,” that was based upon the management approach presented in Guide E 2052.
Governmental Recognition of Subcommittee E06.23 Standards
In Environmental Protection Agency regulations at 40 CFR Part 745.63, Practice E 1728 for collection of dust samples and Specification E 1729 for dust wipe materials are incorporated in the official definition of “wipe sample” as examples of suitable standards. Practice E 1727 for collection of soil samples is similarly cited in the definition of “soil sample.”
In the preamble to its 2006 draft rule for renovation activities in houses containing lead-based paint, EPA states that it is planning to look to Practice E 1828 for evaluating the performance of chemical spot test kits. EPA also recognizes Practice
E 2271 on post-abatement clearance procedures and Guide E 2052 as state-of-the-art consensus standards to support the proposed rule.
The U.S. Army Lead and Asbestos Team recommends that the Army follow ASTM lead standards whenever possible.
A number of states have also cited the standards. For example, Texas and Kentucky require dust wipe media to comply with Specification E 1792. These states, as well as Colorado, cite Practices E 1728 and E 1729 in the same manner as EPA, and Michigan cites them as acceptable sampling methods within its regulations. Ohio requires encapsulant materials to meet either Specification E 1795 or E 1797.
Subcommittee E06.23 provides a unique forum that allows the participation of all the stakeholders in the lead hazard assessment and control industry in developing high-quality and practical consensus standards. New members are always welcome. //
The author gratefully acknowledges the major contributions of the many subcommittee members who have served as officers, task group chairs, and standards writers, and especially the outstanding and inspiring leadership of the subcommittee past chair, Mary McKnight.