This week’s watchword: Renovate Right!

This week is Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week in Massachusetts and the state Department of Public Health has decided this year’s theme is Renovate Right, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule addressing renovation, repair, and painting (RRP) that came out in 2008 and will go into effect next April.

It is important for all of us to understand this if we have children under the age of six or have kids who spend a significant amount of time with us where we live or offer childcare services or schooling in a building which was built before 1978 that needs renovation, repair or painting. This work must be done by a person who has been trained in lead-safe work practices and is certified to do the work.

The Renovate Right Rule applies if the amount of work is six square feet or more in one interior room or twenty square feet on the exterior. If you are contracting with someone to do the work, in addition to being certified, the person must give you a copy of the “Renovate Right” booklet.

We are in difficult economic times. So the tendency might be to do the work yourself. However, it is important to remember you might be creating a worse problem if you do not know how to deal with lead. If there are children under the age of six present, you could be running the risk of exposing them to lead with possible life long health consequences. Lead poisoning can have serious neurological impacts; cause interference with one’s ability to learn and behavioral issues; impact the kidneys; result in high blood pressure; and cross the placenta into the fetus of a pregnant woman.

If you are a trades person and you have not been trained, not only will you be putting your customer and yourself at risk, you could be taking the lead home with you and exposing your own family to harm.

The message for this week is: Renovate Right. You can get more information from the Lead Action Collaborative at 617-279- 2240, Ext. 513; at the City of Boston’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 617-534-2372, and at state’s Dept. of Public Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 1-800-532-9571.

The author is a Dorchester resident and director of the Lead Action Collaborative.