Painting bridges is one of the most dangerous jobs in the industrial coating industry. This is the case for not only the men and women doing the work on the bridge, but the communities down below. Why? The coatings to these bridges to prevent corrosion contain, among other toxins, a high level of lead.
Proper lead remediation is an exact process that requires high level training to not only remove the lead paint from the structure, but to ensure that none of the paint falls on the ground or water below. The industrial coaters of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades receive that level of training, and they have been putting their expertise to good use when it comes to identifying a lack of proper standards on bridge projects.
In fact, members of the IUPAT have been working with local leaders to identify hazards of lead contamination in communities surrounding a number of bridge projects recently.
In Maine, the IUPAT worked with State Representative Ben Chipman on possible safety violations on a bridge painting project in Portland. The concern was there was a coating of dust on the ground below the bridge, and some of the structures surrounding it, after the company in charge of the project, Southern Road & Bridge, began removing lead paint from the bridge to prepare for a new coat.
Representative Chipman worked with other lawmakers to conduct an independent study of soil samples collected from around the bridge. The results were staggering. As the Portland Press Herald reported, “all of the samples came back with lead levels well above the health standards of 400 parts per million near playgrounds and 1,200 parts per million in residential areas. The soil analysis, which was conducted in mid-September by Absolute Resource Associates, showed lead levels ranging from 1,900 parts per million to 32,000 parts per million. Lead can affect mental and physical development in children.”
Read the rest of that story HERE and watch a news report HERE.
In New York City, members of IUPAT District Council 9 alerted community leaders about corrosion causing lead paint chips to shed from an overpass into a community along New York’s East River.
The IUPAT activists held a rally with those community leaders nearby the FDR Drive in New York City to call for immediate and extensive infrastructure repairs to the overpass. The IUPAT representatives and local residents are concerned about their safety from being exposed to falling pieces of lead paint from the overpass.
“This is a public safety issue,” said Davon Lomax, political director of District Council 9 of IUPAT. He explained that fallen paint chips pose a hazard for inhalation or ingestion, particularly for children who might touch the paint chips and ingest paint dust.
“Neighborhood folks are biking, eating, and hanging out around here, and we have lead paint literally falling down,” State Assembly candidate Yuh-Line Niou noted. “We need to make sure the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, and the places we are playing, working, and living are safe.”
Read the rest of that story from PaintSquare.com HERE.
Reports continue to come in from around the country about the lack of proper safety standards on bridge projects. Check back here often to see them as they develop and we take action.