Monday, October 10, 2011

A filter by any other name would taste too sweet

Lead paint chips aren’t really the problem with lead paint. The problem is lead dust, which is much more difficult to deal with. And using a regular vacuum on lead paint chips can create a much worse lead dust problem.

An important part of the solution is to use a proper HEPA vacuum (a vacuum with an actual HEPA filter and a sealed system so that all exhaust air is forced to pass through the HEPA filter). And those are expensive: the cheapest HEPA shop-vac that I could find is about $500. So contractors and painters mostly refuse to buy them, and complain bitterly (and somewhat falsely) that HEPA vacuums are at least $1000. The reality is that contractors and painters hate the new lead rules and wouldn’t use a HEPA vacuum if it were free.

Or would they?

I’d like to see Massachusetts simply give a HEPA vacuum to every single licensed contractor and painter in the state. No more excuses about the cost of the vacuum, no more reasons to spread lead dust. Just a proactive approach that makes it clear we are serious about reducing this particular environmental hazard.

And we all benefit, whether the HEPA vacuum is being used in our own home, or on our neighbor’s property, or in our workplace or school, or in the restaurants and stores we go into, or in friends’ homes that we visit. This isn’t a gift to contractors and painters. It’s the smart move for all of us.

1 comment:

ruthling said...

that's an interesting idea. Wonder if there's some way it could be accomplished. I'll see what I can find out.