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Old 07-11-2020, 09:46 AM   #1
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Default How to deal with this?

Although lead related, and not pertaining to lead paint per say, while painting an exterior for a very good repeat client of 7 years, a roofing contractor stopped by this past Thursday with a helper to perform an inspection of a flat seam lead coated copper roof. Many of the lead solder joints failed and required re-soldering. The client had not been there when the repairs were being performed, yet texted me, requesting that I point out the areas to the roofer where there’s water intrusion, and nothing more, which included not overseeing their work.

Unbeknownst to me, the roofers had dry disc ground all the existing lead solder from the joints without dust extraction of any sorts, creating plumes of lead dust which left a fine film of what I suspect is potentially hazardous lead dust on just about every surface of the house, including window sills, window and door screens, outdoor furnishings, cushions, and stone patios on covered sun porches, which are more or less outdoor living spaces where the client & spouse, as well as their young adult children spend much of their time, including dining.

Knowing about the potential hazards of lead dust while working as a painter all these years, the client’s policy for anyone working on the home has always been, if you see something, you say something, particularly with me, being more or less their go-to person, as well as being a trusted resource. I don’t know how to approach the client on this being that the roofer was the builder’s resource and not mine, knowing they’ll pretty much go ballistic, if and when they are informed. None of the windows were open, so it’s just the exterior.

How would you deal with this?
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Old 07-11-2020, 07:36 PM   #2
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Tough call based on an individual's conscience. Some people become too overwhelmed with guilt knowing a wrong was committed but failed to do anything about it. Knowing becomes a sense of obligation. Others take an indifferent approach. They'll "Leave well enough alone". They "Don't rock the boat" etc.

Throw in the dynamics of social politics, relationships, conflict, being the self appointed police (or Rat like they say on the streets) makes what would otherwise be an easy decision in a bygone era complicated today.

With the exception of automatically protecting say, a family member, a strong motivator for me to pursue an alleged wrong, would be if the behavior had a direct and physical impact on me personally. In other words, did someone's careless, or reckless behavior expose me to a hazard? If yes, I would feel completely justified pointing out the wrong, regardless of the outcome.

At the end of the day, it was the homeowner's and contractor's responsibility to know about any present hazards prior to any work being performed.

As far as me being concerned about exposure to the hazard, I would take samples and get them tested to confirm the hazard. If the results were positive, I would likely get a blood test and have a conversation with those responsible if only to help educate everyone on the hazards and liability of circumventing certain building regulations.
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Old 07-11-2020, 08:08 PM   #3
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I carry lead test swabs with me in my "little bit of anything and everything" bin. Perhaps you can test to see if there's even anything going on there before worrying. Of course, as far as I know, most of that stuff is still lead/tin solder so it's likely you'll get a positive.



If it tests positive ... well, then maybe - even though it's a bit dishonest - perhaps bring it up with the HO but explain that you don't want to be ID'd as a "tattletail." So the HOs story is that they asked you about all of the dust, you said it was from the roof grinding...and the HO claims to already know about lead in roofing solder. (That might not actually be a lie). The idea would be that in the eyes of the roofing co. the only info you gave was that the dust came from the grinding.


It is tricky. I've had people from other trades try to "call me out" on things. Like the cabinet guy who said to the HO that "oh, looks like the roll went a little light there..." Yeah, well no sh** Dick Tracy. I only do one coat before cabs b/c I know you're going to make a mess for me to touch up so I wait until you're done dinging up my sh** before I do the second coat. MYOB!! Yeah, so it can get tricky between the trades. Maybe explain that to the HO when you give them a way to call it out while leaving you out of it?
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Old 07-11-2020, 11:00 PM   #4
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As I understand it, there was lead contamination due to no fault of your own.

As the on site eyes of the owner, you observed what appears to have been an almost criminal disregard for dealing with lead dust contamination

Should you inform the owner? Hell yes inform them! If this happened at your home wouldn’t you want to know about it?
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:37 AM   #5
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I'd tell them. Last year I did work painting kitchen cabinets at a historic home built in the 1800's. While we were doing the job they were having the exterior painted by another company. Zero attempts were made to collect a single paint chips, not even drop cloths. Paint chips were EVERYWHERE. They were sanding like crazy without dust extractors or even a bag on the sander, huge clouds of lead dust flying around and all over the place.

If it hadn't been so incredibly bad I wouldn't have said anything, but this was insane so I spoke up and felt better having done so. I doubt it made a difference but I felt wrong knowingly keeping information pertaining to a potentially dangerous situation to myself.

Really, I should have walked and waited until they were finished with the exterior. This house right off of Main St, I could've thrown a rock and hit city hall it was that close. Having my lettered truck sitting in front of that house while that was happening was scary and didn't look good for my company even though it wasn't me doing the work. I was just waiting for the epa or someone to call or stop by, they never did.

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Old 07-12-2020, 09:21 AM   #6
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I just want to thank everyone for the helpful responses. I particularly liked the two words in CA’s post, conscience & obligation.

Based on the responses, I’ve decided to perform lead testing on Tuesday before raising any alarms. In the interim, the windows always remain shut during the humid summer months, and the homeowner and family have a shoes-off policy at the front entry, so I’m not too concerned that lead dust will be tracked into the house. The weather hasn’t permitted the use of the outdoor living area and the housekeeper is generally extremely thorough, wiping down the outdoor furnishings and dining surfaces whenever work is performed in the general proximity.

I’ve also been caught between a rock and a hard place due to a catch-22 involving a non-disclosure agreement with the GC, so what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Although no longer having a business relationship with the GC, and working homeowner-direct, I had to review the agreement before raising any alarms.

And I agree with RH, that a blatant disregard for lead containment protocol is pretty much a criminal act.
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:23 PM   #7
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Just to be clear, I generally think the lead paint/dust requirements are somewhat overblown and a typical ham-handed response by government to deal with what is a non-issue in many situations. IMO, the amount of lead dust or other contaminants generated is virtually non-existent in 95% of the painting jobs where lead is present. BUT, there are times where the contamination will be extreme and does merit stringent containment protocol. This seems to be an example of that.

Part of my skepticism stems from observing the demolition of the large and old city hospital a number of years ago. Located in a neighborhood surrounded by single owner homes as well as fraternities and sororities associated with our college, they were able to come in and knock that entire structure down without having to take any types of steps to contain the huge amounts of dust that was generated and spread through the nearby neighborhoods as a result.

So huge demolition projects, and the resulting collection of the debris, are exempt from lead contaminants procedures but Joe Painter disturbing more than six square feet had better damned well toe the line. Gimme’ a freakin’ break.
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RH View Post
As I understand it, there was lead contamination due to no fault of your own.

As the on site eyes of the owner, you observed what appears to have been an almost criminal disregard for dealing with lead dust contamination

Should you inform the owner? Hell yes inform them! If this happened at your home wouldn’t you want to know about it?
I agree. Something should be said. But being placed in a position where I would be burdened with the stress of obligation having to initiate a call to action because of someone else's lack of integrity and due diligence, is completely unfair. And I get it. Life is unfair.

At what point do you just have to let the consequences of poor behavior and the lack of accountability play out? Especially, when it's enough of an effort to maintain integrity in your own lane, let alone becoming the go to of standards and practices for those (including homeowners) who don't seem interested in the little details and logistics (monies) concerning the handling of hazardous materials, exposure, environmental contamination, disposal and laws governing those concerns.

And there is no dispute that lead impacts children the most.

Last edited by CApainter; 07-12-2020 at 12:51 PM..
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