Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lead Rule Schmed Rule Part 2

So, Since the last post I've learned some stuff by talking to people on the 'inside' of lead abatement enforcement.

How To Get The Feds Attention
First off, If you want to anonymously report what you suspect is some crazy bad lead paint removal to the EPA the more direct line to the guy in charge of this part of the US is this web address and complaint form.
The FEDS name is Max Weintraub and his email is  His direct phone line is 415-947-4163
I've been told that the EPA seriously drags their feet on these kinds of things and they hardly ever fine anyone....
So, if you think that this is a situation where feet should not be dragged please, please, please, feel free to give Max a call or an email and just say something like, 'Hey Max, don't sweep that chezneumansky guys complaint under the rug, Fine these guys!'

California Has Its Own Version Of The EPA RRP Rule
The fines are lame $1000 and or 6 months in Jail.

Here is some pertinent verbiage cut and pasted from their website.

§36050. Lead-Safe Work Practices.
(a) Any individual conducting lead activities, excluding lead hazard evaluation, shall:
(1) Use containment;
(2) Ensure that the work area has no visible dust or debris following the completion of a project;
(3) Demonstrate compliance with (a)(1) and (a)(2) to the Department or local enforcement agency, as defined in section 105251 of the Health and Safety Code, upon request.

§36100. Requirements for Abatement for Public and Residential Buildings.
(a) Abatement for public and residential buildings which is designed to reduce lead paint or lead
hazards for a minimum of twenty years shall be conducted:

(1) Only by a certified lead supervisor or a certified lead worker. A certified lead supervisor shall be onsite during all work site preparation and during the post-abatement cleanup of work
areas. At all other times when abatement is conducted, the certified lead supervisor shall be
onsite or available by telephone, pager or answering service, and able to be present at the work
area in no more than two hours.

(2) According to the procedures specified in Chapter 12: Abatement, “Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Housing,” U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development, June 1995.

(3) Using containment and in a manner which does not result in contamination of non-work areas with lead-contaminated dust, lead-contaminated soil, or lead-based paint debris.

(4) In accordance with an abatement plan prepared by a certified lead supervisor, certified lead project monitor, or certified lead project designer which shall:

(A) Include the following information:
1. A detailed written description of the measures and management procedures, including containment, that will be utilized during abatement to prevent exposure to
lead hazards;

2. A detailed written description of abatement, including methods of abatement and locations of rooms and components where abatement is planned;

3. A recommended schedule for re-inspection, based upon the type of abatement; and
4. Instructions on how to maintain potential lead hazards in safe condition.
(B) Be retained and made available to the Department upon request for a period of at least three years by the preparer.

(5) After notification is posted and delivered pursuant to subsection (c), the certified lead supervisor conducting abatement shall retain records of notification for at least three years.

(6) In a manner in which after abatement is completed, a clearance inspection is conducted in accordance with Section 36000(a) and Section 36000(c)(3) of this Chapter.

(b) Abatement for public and residential buildings which is designed to reduce lead paint or lead hazards for less than twenty years shall be conducted:

(1) According to procedures specified in Chapter 11: Interim Controls, “Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Housing,” U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development, June 1995.

(2) Using containment and in a manner which does not result in contamination of non-work areas
with lead-contaminated dust, lead-contaminated soil, or lead-based paint debris.
(3) In a manner to ensure that the work area has no lead contaminated dust following the
completion of abatement.

(4) In a manner to ensure that a clearance inspection is conducted following the completion of abatement, if abatement was conducted in response to an identified case of lead poisoning as
defined in Section 105280(b) of the California Health and Safety Code.

(5) After notification is posted and delivered pursuant to subsection (c).
(c) Prior to conducting abatement, the individual conducting abatement shall provide notification by completing an Abatement of Lead Hazards Notification, CDPH Form 8551 (6/07), form and:

(1) Posting at all entrances to the work area a copy of the completed form which shall not be removed until abatement has been completed and, for abatement conducted pursuant to
subsection (a), a clearance inspection has been completed; and

(2) Delivering a copy of the completed form to the Department. Except for abatement conducted in response to an identified case of lead poisoning as defined in section 105280(b) of the
Health and Safety Code, the completed form shall be delivered to the Department at least five
days prior to conducting abatement.

(d) Any individual conducting abatement or disturbing lead-based paint without containment shall

permit the Department, or enforcement agencies, as specified in the California Health and Safety
Code Sections 17960, 17961, and 17965, to access work areas to determine compliance with the
requirements of this section.


How To Get The Local Lead Guy For Alameda County To Do Something

Call 510-567-8272 and ask for David Crosby
I did just that and he was out at the construction site the same day!! Yay for local government!
He was even nice enough to call me back after his visit and chat with me for quite a while.
David had a funny story to tell about inspecting the site.
He showed up and told the GC who he was and that he needed to take a look around.
The GC starts trying to bully him and preventing him from looking at certain areas.
All the while the GC is spewing this nonsense about how, 'this is how we always do it, see its fine!'
Then, (I freaking love this part) Dave whips out my blog post and says something like, I got the truth right here. After that the GC backed away.
Turns out that after like two days of scrambling they still were way out of compliance with most of the Federal rules AND the California rules.

What Else Can I Do?
I sent the blog post link to 'Seven On Your Side'. but other than that I am out of ideas.
Anyone got any good ideas?

Up Next
The Plot Thickens.....even more.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

RRP Lead Rule Schmed-Rule

Okay, so there's this thing called the RRP Rule.

In English, that means the Environmental Protection Agency's  Lead-Based Paint Repair, Renovation and Painting Program.
The EPA has this nifty pamphlet about it.

In short, it's a bunch of rules on how contractors are supposed to deal with paint on pre-1978 houses.
If you own a pre-1978 house you should download the pamphlet and know what the law is.


Here are some important pages for contractors working on painting the exterior of a pre-1978 house.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Certified Firm?
Firms performing renovations must ensure that:

1. All individuals performing activities that disturb painted surfaces on behalf of the firm are either certified renovators or have been trained by a certified renovator.

2. A certified renovator is assigned to each renovation and performs all of the certified renovator responsibilities.

3. All renovations performed by the firm are performed in accordance with the work practice standards of the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program (see the flowchart on page 9 for details about the work practice standards).

4. Pre-renovation education and lead pamphlet distribution requirements of the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program are performed.

5. The program’s recordkeeping requirements are met.

Work Practice Requirements Specific to Exterior Renovations
The firm must:

(A) Close all doors and windows within 20 feet of the renovation.

(B) Ensure that doors within the work area that will be used while the job is being performed are covered with plastic sheeting in a manner that allows workers to pass through while confining dust and debris.

(C) Cover the ground with plastic sheeting or other disposable impermeable material extending a minimum of 10 feet beyond the perimeter or a sufficient distance to collect falling paint debris, whichever is greater. If a property line prevents 10 feet of such ground covering, then erect vertical containment or equivalent extra precautions to prevent contamination of adjacent buildings and property.

(D) In situations such as where work areas are in close proximity to other buildings, windy conditions, etc., the renovation firm must take extra precautions in containing the work area, like vertical containment.

(E) After the renovation has been completed, the firm must clean the work area until no dust, debris or residue remains. 
The firm must:
 1. Collect all paint chips and debris, and seal it in a heavy-duty bag.
 2. Remove and dispose of protective sheeting as waste.
 3. Waste transported from renovation activities must be contained to prevent release of dust and debris.

My favorite part:
Why Is Lead Paint Dangerous?
Lead gets into the body when it is swallowed or inhaled. People, especially children, can swallow lead dust as they eat, play, and do other normal hand-to-mouth activities. People may also breathe in lead dust or fumes if they disturb lead-based paint. People who sand, scrape, burn, brush, blast or otherwise disturb lead-based paint risk unsafe exposure to lead.

Lead is especially dangerous to children under 6 years of age.
Lead can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems, causing:
• Reduced IQ and learning disabilities.
• Behavioral problems.

Even children who appear healthy can have dangerous levels of lead in their bodies.
Lead is also harmful to adults. In adults, low levels of lead can pose many dangers, including:
• High blood pressure and hypertension.
• Pregnant women exposed to lead can transfer lead to their fetus.

How frightening is that?

Now after reading the above I want y'all to take a look at some pictures I took of my across-the-street neighbor's house being prepped for painting.

These pics were taken mid-day on the 17th of June 2013.
I had watched two men work their way around the house scraping off paint.
The workers were wearing t-shirts and pants and no breathing gear. Wonder what OSHA would
say about that?
It looked to me like there were completely done scrapping the paint off the house.

What's missing in these photos?
It was a windy day and the houses on both sides are pretty close.
 Nice old house with paint that is in worse shape than ours..ahem.

 Look at how close the house next door is. Do you see any attempt at keeping the debris contained?

The vac you see on the top left of the stairs. Definitely not a HEPA vac.
Canvas is not allowed as it is permeable. 


Here's my fav pic. Look at all those paint chips on a canvas drop cloth.

The back of the house.

 Paint Chips in the Dirt!

Do you think that its a coincidence that the back of the house, which can not been seen from the street, is where all the chips were left to lie in the dirt?

Every single fricken' thing that they were supposed to do according to the RRP Rule.

The Plot Thickens
During the entire day this work was going on there was a pretty strong breeze blowing from this house towards mine.
Where our bedroom windows are.. my 4yr old daughter's open bedroom window....
There are also 4 tween kids that live on the property, and one that lives in the grey house next door...which had its windows open.

The owner of the house comes home and I catch him in his car and ask him some sensible questions.   "Did the painting contractors test for lead?"
   "Lead? no I don't think so"
   "Did they talk to you at all about Lead Abatement?"
   "Did they give you a lead paint pamphlet?"
I talked to the owner about the RRP Rules and he was completely ignorant of them.
Now I am super-pissed off. I print out the page from the EPA RRP handbook about the contractor's responsibilities and give it to the owner.

I'm thinking these guys are trying to take advantage of a nice old couple who are not up on the current rules.
I immediately march home and file a non-anon complaint on the firm with the EPA.

Then, I call the number on the sign and ask to talk with someone in charge.
I get a woman on the line and start telling her what I am seeing and how I know that it is REALLY NOT OKAY.
She says, 'That there was a mix-up and there was not supposed to be any work done there that day. That they had all along planned on doing the RRP work, that the workers just got ahead of schedule.'
I tell her she is full of shit and hang up on her.

I think the owner called the firm also, as very shortly thereafter a 'painting SWAT team' showed up and started some serious scrambling.

SWAT Team In Action

Now they have HEPA vacs and are wearing respirators. You can't tell from this photo, but one of the workers is vacuuming the dirt behind the hedge. It looked like they were vacuuming the entire house and grounds with the HEPA vacs. I'm pretty sure vacuuming the dirt is not an official way to clean lead contaminated soil....

The Plot Gets Thicker
While I was taking the above picture two bigger-than-me-burly guys come across the street to 'talk' to me.
They both look pissed off and angry and they know I'm the guy that finked on them to the FEDS. Honestly, I'm thinking that these guys want to 'pound some sense' into me and I'm starting to steel myself for a fight. I've got my mobile set to call 911 and my finger is hovering over the button.....
They start in on the same B.S. line as the woman on the phone about how it was just a scheduling snafu and that they had meant to comply all along....

I cut them off and go into a rant;
"Stop bullshitting me, I know you never had any intention of doing this. You guys were the lowest bidder and you're trying to make the numbers pencil out by cutting corners with an ignorant client. What's your excuse for not doing all the pre-work requirements? Why does the owner not know a single thing about the RRP rule? You guys are full of crap and I've already reported you to the EPA and I hope to god you get dinged the $36k fine for at least one day!"
Now they are both looking pretty pissed off.
I turn on my heal and head back into my house before one of them can work up the nerve to take a swing at me.

Night Time Fun
The SWAT team works on the house till dark.
Around 9pm we hear some noises coming from across the street.
We peek out the window and this is what we see.

They've come back and are added plastic sheeting to the scaffolding. I'm sure this was there plan all along right?

'Cause, I'm sure it's standard practice from them to bring a small child to a RRP site?

You can just see him on the grass just below the street light. He was running around in and out of the covered part of the scaffolding trying to entertain himself. I'm sure that's safe....
Seriously though, if this ignoring of the RRP rule is standard practice for these's a good bet that that little boy has been exposed to excessive lead levels from the dust daddy brings home on his clothes after a hard day's work...that sucks.

The Next Morning
These guys were up working at 7am - much, much earlier than I've seen them before.
They are putting up the shade cloth that is supposed to help contain the lead if it's windy.
Note, this is all being done after all the scraping has happened.

Now, I wonder why they are replacing the scaffolding planks too? Hmmm...could they be worried about a visit from OSHA?

It looks like they are done.

Nice giant tear in the thing that's supposed to be keeping the dust contained.

Bunny Suits!

All morning there has been one worker on site. In the correct lead abatement gear: Bunny suit, shoe booties, and a respirator. He has been manically vacuuming everything with a HEPA vac.

Dear Readers (both of you);
Please, please, please, if you see anything like the above happening near you, file an anon complaint to the EPA.
Don't let unscrupulous contractors poison your neighborhood and children.

Please pass this blog post on to whomever you think could use it.

Now it's in the hands of the EPA. I'm going to file another complaint with the web address of this blog. I figure they can't ignore it if it's all over the web.

I think I've presented both sides of the story here. It's up to you, Dear Readers, to make up your own minds about what happened and if you would ever, ever use this firm.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Home Made Player Pipe Organ

No, not mine.
A local pipe organ nut built himself a player pipe organ and invited me to come take a look at it.
Turns out, its for sale and the builder will help install it if anyone is interested in it.
Its VERY similar to what I am planning on doing but this thing is just tooooo big for the space we have for it :(

He has it crammed into a teeny-tiny ten foot square room so taking pictures of it was a major PITA.
Check it out, at the end there is a video that shows the whole thing in action.

The Console
He took the original console and but it in a smaller case as the original case was too huge to fit.

Close up look at the stops
The organ has six ranks so to speak.
Bourdon, Open Diapason, Flute, Salicional, Trumpet and mixture 3.
Apparently Trumpet is a pretty rare rank.

The main four rank wind chest.

Like I said, hard to get a picture of the whole thing.

Trio Wind chest
This is very interesting I thought. This chest couples three higher octaves to the note your playing.
With just this and the Open Diapason activated the sound was superbly mad-scientist, me likey.

Some of his collection of player piano rolls.

The transformer to run the valves.
Apparently these are quite expensive to buy. He has two.

The player piano mechanism.
Just watching this vacuum air motor work is pretty cool.
Looks very steam-punk to me. Course, it runs on vacuum not steam.

The metal are the open Diapason and the big wood is the Bourdon.

I learned that the GIANT wood pipes I have are bourdon also.
video goes here... 
He wired up the console that the keys would move which he said was, 'to make it look like a ghost was playing it.'
The whole thing is really neat and the owner seems like a really nice guy, We just don't have the room for it and its not what we really want to do.
The main four rank box is 3'by8' and that's what's killing it for us. If all the ranks were separate we could fit it in the house. That and the player piano mech, while super cool isn't what we're going for in looks.

We still want to convert our pump organ into a midi controller and have that control several separate pipe ranks.

If this is of interest to anybody please email me and I will put you in touch with him.