Environmental Health Program Guidelines for Schools Includes Painting Clauses

May 13, 2013

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a set of guidelines so that all states can maintain a level of quality in education complexes. This is dubbed the Healthy Schools Program, and its “Voluntary Guidelines for States: Development and Implementation of a School Environmental Health Program” is aimed at school districts, schools, child care facilities, etc.

The EPA used these guidelines to address some important environmental issues that may arise in K-12 facilities, which include the following:

1.  Poor ventialtion, causing indoor air quality problems (mold, allergens, chemicals, pesticides, contaminants like radon and diesel exhaust from school buses that could enter the facility, and specific hazards like elemental mercury, lead paint, and polychlorinated biphenyls.

2. Safely storing chemicals and hazardous materials to prevent accidents.

3. Smart Materials selection, including low-emitting and low toxicity paint– in other words, green painting.

4. Adequate paint chip cleanup.

These guidelines are specific to painting in a learning facility:

  • Interior painted areas – Examine walls and interior surfaces to see if the paint is cracking, chipping, or peeling, and check for areas on doors or windows where painted surfaces rub together.

  • Exterior painted areas – Check exterior paint, which can flake off and contaminate nearby soil where children might play.

  • Surrounding areas – Be aware of large, nearby structures with peeling or flaking paint that could contaminate the soil around play areas.

  • Play areas – Examine areas where children play to ensure they are dust free and clean. Outside, check for bare soil and test for lead.

  • Playground equipment – Check older equipment to determine whether it contains lead-based paint.

  • Painted toys and furniture – Make sure the paint is not cracking, chipping, or peeling

In addition, EPA’s RRP Rule requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb leadbased paint in pre-1978 homes and child occupied facilities (including schools that serve children 6 years of age and younger) must be certified by the EPA and use certified renovators who are trained to follow lead-safe work practices, such as Raider Painting, a California painting company.

The job of getting a facility of this type prepared and properly maintained is challenging on its own. When there are government guidelines that need to be observed, it makes the job a bit trickier. Keep in mind, though, that following the EPA’s rules, as well as an effective schedule will prevent you from costly budget blunders.

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