View of the Towers Affordable Housing development in Allentown.

Mitigating Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Affordable Housing

Allentown Housing Authority


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Lead, a durable metal with negative health side effects has been in the news a lot lately. It started with the Lead Crisis in Flint, Michigan in 2015, but has lingered around as studies have revealed that blood lead levels are particularly high in communities with an older housing stock, such as Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth ranks 5th in the U.S. for most homes built before 1978 (PA Gov). Communities in our region are applying for grants for developing solutions to address high lead levels in children. Northampton County applied for a $2.5 million dollar U.S. Housing and Urban Development Office grant aimed to reduce lead-based paint exposure for children ages one through six. The cities of Lancaster and Allentown both received around $1.4 million dollars each from HUD last year to help control lead hazards, but the City of Lancaster is struggling to find a viable solution that will protect their residents against lead hazards without passing the cost to tenants. The City of Allentown is currently using their grant to clear at least 45 units of lead-based paint hazards over a three-year period.

Element Environmental Solutions (E2S) has been fortunate to partner with the Allentown Housing Authority (AHA) on multiple lead-based paint inspections and risk assessments as well as other indoor air quality projects. In 2015, AHA contracted with E2S to conduct a comprehensive lead-based paint inspection of six multi-family residential complexes located throughout the City of Allentown. E2S inspected 153 randomly selected units in one week in addition to completing 17 risk assessments. All lead-based paint inspections were conducted in accordance with the United States Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines outlined in the “Final Rule” and Chapter 7 Lead Inspection. In conjunction with the lead-based paint inspections, E2S collected over 150 lead wipe samples as part of the risk assessment.

Since then, E2S has provided lead-based paint chip testing and/or risk assessments on over 350 units owned by AHA. During some of the lead-based paint investigations, E2S also tested lead in drinking water in several units to head off and alleviate any concerns. Fortunately, the AHA units that were tested met the EPA’s leading drinking water guidelines.

E2S has also conducted asbestos bulk sampling at multiple apartments scattered throughout Allentown in support of rehabilitation projects. Asbestos bulk sampling has been associated with suspect hot water tank insulation and associated pipe covering, suspect floor tile and mastic tile adhesive in specific locations. Upon receipt of any positive laboratory analytical results of any asbestos containing material, E2S was contracted to design, manage, and oversee the abatement strategy in support of scheduled renovations where asbestos containing materials were identified. E2S is proud to partner with an organization such as the AHA, who takes the health of their residents seriously and does whatever they can to reduce exposures to hazardous building materials. If you’re concerned with lead-based paint hazards on your property, please contact E2S to learn if there are any risks associated with lead-based paint or lead in drinking water on your property.