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EPA Lead Rules and the Monkees of Nikko Toshogo

Submitted by on December 5, 2009 – 7:21 pm20 Comments

“See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil”
By Paul Lesieur

10049847Although it’s true origins remain debated this phrase was put into practice in the form of three monkeys carved, one with its hands over its eyes, one with its hands over its ears, and another with its hands over its mouth, for the Nikko Toshogo Shrine in Japan.

This April contractors will struggle for understanding and proper implementation of the EPA lead guidelines for the building industry. This is a move to better protect people from this heavy metal.

We should have had safe lead practices in place years ago.

See no evil kept unsafe workplace processes in play far longer than we should have allowed, and as a veteran of many demolitions I am sure I have some symptoms from ingesting lead. But we chose not to see what was happening and people, especially children suffered the harmful effects of high lead levels.

Hear no evil was what occurred when scientists and doctors published their studies on the effects of high lead levels in people and pets. The writing was there and voices spoke out against careless lead use and poor control of its containment or disposal but few chose to hear what the health workers said.

Speak no evil was the worst, knowing what was happening and not joining the chorus to stop these unsafe practices.

Now in April we start a hysterical attempt to control the damage, at an economic cost that may compound the problem. Knee-jerk attempts to rectify the problem quickly by encapsulating lead tainted debris in plastic will add cost and inconvenience and the people performing the work will be poorly trained and ill equipped to properly determine if they are actually keeping lead dust contained. In time we will discover good work practices concerning lead control but that’s likely a few years away.

Until we get a plan I will follow the safe practices described but as a member of the building community I hope we improve our approach that we quickly share smart practices so we can get past the SNAFU that will begin in April 2010.

Update – some more thought on the issue Hey, Hey we’re the Monkees! #2

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