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Penquis Working with Landlords, Contractors on New Lead Paint Rules 

New federal rules go into effect next month related to lead-based paint that could affect thousands of contractors and landlords in Maine.The folks at Penquis held a workshop in Bangor Thursday, trying to help everyone understand how to comply with the EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting rule. They say it was designed with childrens’ safety in mind.There are about 120 cases of lead poisoning a year in Maine, and Bangor is considered a high-density area. That’s according to Eric Frohmberg, from the state’s childhood lead poisoning prevention program. “In Bangor, about 80 percent of those poisonings occur in apartment buildings,” he says. That’s why, at the Penquis workshop, they were reaching out to landlords and contractors, talking about the dangers of lead dust from paint in homes built before 1978.”There’s two ways it occurs. One is through renovation. When people sand paint, that can produce a lot of lead dust very quickly. The other way is through deferred maintenance. When people don’t take care of apartment buildings, and there’s normal wear and tear,” Frohmberg says.The new federal rules are aimed at anyone who’s paid to paint, remodel or in any way disturb painted surfaces in homes built before 1978.Starting next month, many of those folks will have to be certified, with the hope that better training of how to clean and contain lead dust will mean fewer poisonings.”There are a lot of resources out there, from a landlord perspective. There will be some cost with this, but there’s also a cost with children getting poisoned,” says Michael Bush, a housing developer for Penquis.”We know that lead based paint has been hazardous in the Bangor area for a good many years,” says Bill Meucci. He has apartment houses in Bangor and says the new rules will help keep tenants safe. “I know they’re probably going to be harder to work with. A lot of contractors will probably complain about it, but it’s got to be done,” he says.They say the key for landlords and contractors is being proactive.”With some more effort, with some primary prevention meaning learning how to prevent lead poisoning, we can really get rid of lead poisoning in Maine, which would be wonderful,” Frohmberg says.For more information on the new lead paint rules, you can visit the state’s web site, Maine.gov/healthyhomes.