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State poised to enact outdoor lead paint ban

A bill banning lead paint on outdoor structures passed the state Senate with unanimous support Wednesday and is headed to the governor’s desk.

Exposure to high levels of lead can affect the kidneys, the brain and the heart.

House Bill 456 bans the use of lead paint on structures like water towers, playgrounds and bridges.

Wilmington resident and registered nurse Sarah Bucic talked with lawmakers and health groups earlier this year about a ban on lead paint, and is thrilled to see it through.

“We’ve known lead paint has been dangerous for a very long time,” Bucic said. “We took it out of residential paint in the 70s, we took it out of gasoline, we’ve removed it in all these other places. There’s really no reason we shouldn’t ban it outside as well.”

Bucic lives about 80 feet from a water tower. In a February 2018 interview with Delaware Public Media, she said a man from the company Suez Delaware knocked on her door in summer 2016, informing her about upcoming construction on the water tower.

“It was framed as a largescale construction project. There was nothing indicating lead paint or removing hazardous material,” Bucic said.

Lead paint was removed from the structure and ended up in her side yard. She collected some of the paint chips to show them to state officials.

Delaware Public Media science reporter Katie Peikes and Sarah Bucic discuss paint chips that Bucic found in her yard associated with a sandblasting project.

Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is drafting regulations on how companies can safely remove lead paint from water towers. Bucic said she’d like to see air quality monitoring and soil sampling in those regulations.

DNREC is holding a public hearing on regulations for sandblasting water towers at 6 p.m.  Thursday, July 12 at 555 South Bay Rd. in Dover.