Mayor Emanuel and I today proposed a new law that aims to reduce the risk of exposure to dust and debris that may be contaminated with lead-based paint or asbestos.
With the economic recovery underway, we are starting to see an increase in building demolitions and renovations. Many older buildings in Chicago were constructed or decorated in part with materials that may contain lead paint or asbestos. Failure to handle those materials properly during demolition or renovation activities could result in a serious risk to public health
Children are especially vulnerable to the health impacts of lead, which can cause learning disabilities and behavior problems. Inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibers can cause potentially fatal asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.
The measure the Mayor and I propose requires applicants for certain renovation permits or architectural surface cleaning permits to certify under oath that they will comply with federal lead-safe training requirements and work practices when conducting work that may disturb lead-based paint. The requirement applies to work done in child-occupied buildings built before 1978, the year lead was banned from household paints.
The rule applies to most construction trades, including general contractors and special trade contractors, painters, plumbers, carpenters, window installers, wood floor refinishers and electricians. Activities performed by all of these trades can disturb lead-based paint and have the potential to create hazardous lead dust. For most individuals, eight hours of training is required. By ensuring that projects permitted in the city are performed in compliance with the federal rule, our proposed ordinance will help to limit exposure to lead hazards and prevent lead poisoning before it happens.
Our proposed law also clarifies the notice, fee, and disposal provisions in the current asbestos ordinance. Clarifying the notification procedures will ensure that that the City of Chicago’s Department of Public Health is timely notified of demolition projects so that City inspectors can review and inspect them as needed. Andclarifying how asbestos-containing demolition debris should be disposed of properly will benefit all who might come into contact with the debris, from the workers and waste haulers to the general public.
I will keep you posted on the progress of our legislation.