Despite being banned since 1978, lead paint abatement activities still cost an amazing hundreds of millions of dollars every year. This is because many pre-1978 properties are still testing positive for lead in their coating systems. The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reveals that nearly 75% of properties in the United States are old houses built prior to 1978, or equivalent to more than 50 million properties!
Costs of Lead Paint Abatement
To property owners, the going price for lead removal for every square feet of property ranges from $10 to $15. If the property is a pre-1978 construction, the total lead paint abatement cost for a 1,500-square feet property averages $15,000, while a 2,000-square feet property can be anywhere from $15,000-$30,000.
What goes into this total cost? Contractors’ labor fees, sampling costs, and laboratory testing charges are just some of them.
Encapsulation, which seals the lead-painted surface instead of removing the paint, costs around 50 cents per square feet or around $1,000 for a 2,000-square-foot property, which is far less in cost than lead removal. However, the danger of lead exposure is not totally removed.
EPA regulations require all abatement contractors to be trained and certified for the task. The costs of these certification programs are additionally charged to customers. State-level certifications alone cost around $300 per program, and more advanced abatement training costs are higher. Contractors also accrue additional costs to obtain business licenses and accreditations.
When on a project, the costs of obtaining project permits add up to the total project costs. Specialized equipment and materials for lead paint abatement work, such as HEPA vacuum filters, sheeting materials, and worker gear, are expensive and adds further costs to the project.
To lessen the costs of lead paint abatement, the HUD’s Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control (OHHLHC) takes charge of grant programs for abatement projects. Below are a few of them:
- Lead-based Paint Hazard Control Program (LHC), which awards 30 $3M-grants yearly to local governments, States and Native American Tribes to for lead hazards identification and control.
- Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Program (LHRD), which awards 12 $4M-grants to the same target recipients living in 1940s-built rental properties.
- Operation Lead Elimination Action Program (LEAP), which awards 6 $2M-grants for private organizations willing to co-fund lead paint abatement programs.
- Lead Outreach Program (LOR), which awards 4 $500,000-grants to academic organizations and local governments for public awareness campaigns on childhood lead poisoning prevention and lead paint abatement activities.
Consequences of Lead Exposure
The ill-effects of lead in paint has been well-document, that is why despite the economic costs, lead paint abatement activities continue up to this day. The monetary costs are far less than the societal costs of lead exposure and poisoning.
Lead exposure in children and adults can cause delayed mental and physical development, behavioral and learning disorders, organ damage, and even pregnancy losses. New studies reveal a direct correlation between lead poisoning and crime, and adult diseases sourced from childhood lead exposure and poisoning.
The menace of exposure will not be over until lead paint abatement activities have removed all traces of lead in every property in the United States.