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Demo Permit Review in OR Targets Lead Dust

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

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A Portland, Oregon, commissioner has introduced a new regulation that would tighten rules surrounding the demolition of buildings that test positive for lead paint.

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The ordinance calls for removing all siding, windows and doors prior to demolition if the home has tested positive for lead; the aim is to reduce the amount of lead dust that’s created at a demolition site.

City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly brought her proposal to the monthly Development Advisory Review Committee meeting in late September and received pushback from many industry professionals who say the new regulations are unnecessary.

The Proposal

The proposed Portland ordinance calls for the removal of all siding, windows and doors prior to demolition if the home has tested positive for lead; the aim is to reduce the amount of lead dust that’s created at a demolition site.

The pushback from professionals centers around their argument that the city's existing demolition application process is sufficient for controlling lead hazards. According to current practice, contractors are required to document if a property has lead or other hazardous materials such as asbestos and, if so, confirm that those materials will be remediated before demolition.

The Portland Tribune, however, recently investigated more than 100 demolition permit application packages and found more than 20 to be filled out either incompletely or incorrectly—calling into question the level of compliance with the current documentation and regulation process.

® iStock.com / photosbyjim

Jeff Fish, who helped craft the certification while serving on the BDS Demolition Subcommittee, told the Tribune that lead dust from demolition poses far less risk than lead in drinking water, for example, and that lead-based dust doesn’t “fly off the properties” because of how heavy it is.

During the Tribune’s investigation, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Development Services noted that while the city enforces remediation when a building is being renovated or repaired, the city doesn’t have the power to enforce abatement in demolitions, making that part of the application “almost moot.”

Opposition

Contractor Jeff Fish, who helped craft the city's current process while serving on the BDS Demolition Subcommittee, told the Tribune that lead dust from demolition poses far less risk than lead in drinking water, for example, and that lead-based dust doesn’t “fly off the properties” because of how heavy it is.

"There's no reason to suppress the dust," he said. "There's no lead dust in the air. Chips don't float—they fall off. You can spend all kinds of money doing stupid stuff."

Many professionals simply took issue with the wording in the proposal, however, including Rob Humphrey, vice chairman of the DRAC, who said he would like a statement that identifies “what’s broken and needs to be fixed.”

What Next

Now, the proposed ordinance goes to the DRAC Demolition Subcommittee where more verbiage and details (such as enforcement) will be worked out.

There is also new state legislation that will take effect in Oregon in January 2018—Senate Bill 871—that gives local jurisdictions the power to regulate lead dust in demolitions.

   

Tagged categories: Demolition; Laws and litigation; Lead; Lead paint abatement

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (10/3/2017, 11:22 AM)

Tough call. If the substrate is pulverized enough to generate dust, it is possible to have adhered lead paint airborne....though one would think it would be a relatively minor amount. However, I would think the more pressing concern would be silica exposure from the dust (from concrete, drywall and such), which could be significantly higher than lead paint exposure.


Comment from PAUL BARTHEL, (10/5/2017, 10:33 AM)

Not only can the dust be suppressed, yet the lead hazards rendered non hazardous for disposal. Not just lead chips, yet components as well. Drywall, Fascia, Stucco. Seal and treating lead and lead dust is now possible.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/19/2017, 8:33 AM)

Paul, that sounds like a reasonable alternative until you read the contractor's claim that "There's no reason to suppress the dust" Does he perform air monitoring to back it up? Of course not. Bare supposition.


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