I reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to find an answer to the LEAD PAINT graffiti mystery. Turns out, the home owners explanation that the tagging was done to be in compliance with guidelines may actually be partially true.
David Turpin, the Regional Lead Coordinator for the EPA Land and Chemicals Division tells me:
EPA, Region 5, has authorized the Minnesota Department of Health to administer the EPA lead abatement program in lieu of the federal program. The EPA abatement program does not require the visual notification of lead paint that you showed in your example. The state program could require this.
I reached out to the Minnesota Department of Health Absestos/Lead Compliance Unit. Bruce Lange tells me MDH does not have any requirement for labeling lead paint in any way, shape, or form. The only recommendation he is aware of is the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Housting, more commonly known as The HUD Guidelines.
In Chapter 12 “Abatement”, HUD recommends that a contractor conducting “Enclosure”, or leaving lead-based paint in place and is covering it with a rigid durable barrier, such as sheetrock or siding, that the paint be labeled every two feet with a stamp that states “Danger: Lead-Based Paint”. He says this is so that if in the future the sheetrock, siding, etc. is removed by another contractor, that contractor is aware that the paint they may be impacting is lead based, and they can take the necessary precautions to protect their workers and any residents of the property.
He futher adds if the property is receiving HUD funding to deal with the lead paint issues during rehabilitation, there may be specific language in the contractor’s contract stating they must label any remaining lead paint as such. However, this is a contractual issue and not a regulatory one.
As of today, the property in question is now in the process of being wrapped and insulated. Presumably in preparation of applying new siding. Bruce did make it clear that there is no requirement that lead paint be removed at this point – just labeled. While the contractor and home owner were correct in their process of labeling the areas where lead paint is, their choice of LEAD PAINT written everywhere is not the correct stamp or label that is required:
Stamp, label, or stencil all lead-based painted surfaces that will be enclosed with a warning approximately every 2 feet both horizontally and vertically on all components. The warning should read: “Danger:Lead-Based Paint.” Deteriorated paint should not be removed from the surface to be enclosed.
This all may have caught our eye only because of the blatant tagging on this building and the length of time it stayed this way. Certainly, if it was covered by new siding the next day this wouldn’t have been an issue. The eye sore sitting in the community was.