Vancouver Sun: Lead paint to be removed at four Surrey pools

Posted March 5, 2018

Four Surrey pool houses will get a fresh coat of paint to prevent swimmers from being exposed to lead.
The paint removal and repainting will be done as a precautionary measure after testing revealed lead-based paint was used on the concrete-block walls of the change rooms at Kwantlen, Bear Creek, Port Kells and Greenaway outdoor pools, said a statement from the City of Surrey facilities division.
Like many buildings constructed in the early 1960s, the pool houses were originally painted with a lead-based paint. Since the health risks associated with ingesting lead have become known, city workers have been regularly checking for chipping and peeling paint.
Infrastructure funding prompted the city to begin lead abatement at several pools last year. The last four pools will be completed in 2018.
“The lead abatement program is a proactive initiative of facilities, and there has been no incident or risk to date that (has) surfaced,” said the statement provided to Postmedia. “Having the lead abatement done will mitigate all risk and minimize our regular paint chipping or peeling monitoring requirements.”
Before the 1960s, the use of lead-based paint was widespread in Canada and the United States. A report released in 2007 by anti-poverty group ACORN estimated that nearly a quarter of Canadian children lived in homes built before 1960. The government banned paint containing more than 0.5 per cent lead in 1976, and it has been phased out of almost all paints since 1991.
Research shows that even very small amounts of lead can have “harmful health effects on the intellectual and behavioural development of infants and young children,” according to HealthLink. Lead exposure can cause learning disabilities and behavioural problems in children, while high levels of lead may cause lead poisoning, anemia and impaired brain and nervous system functions.
Lead-based paint does not present a health hazard as long as the paint is not chipping, flaking, crushed or sanded into dust.
As a result, removal can pose significant challenges, said WorkSafe B.C. prevention field services director Dan Strand. “Paint chips or dust can be inhaled or ingested and cause serious problems.”
A series of protocols need to be followed to ensure safe removal, and construction companies must inform WorkSafe B.C. when they’ll be working with hazardous materials like lead paint, said Strand. Sometimes, however, the paint is hidden beneath other layers of paint.
According to a Request for Proposals posted on the B.C. Bid website about the Surrey pools, the lead paint is found on concrete block walls, metal door frames and metal doors at each of the four outdoor facilities, as well as on wood soffits at Kwantlen, Port Kells and Greenaway.
It will be removed using a combination of “abrasive blasting, hand grinding and hand demolition.” The work area setup will include a full polyethylene enclosure with a three stage decontamination chamber at the entrance.
In 2010, sports equipment manufacturer Bauer recalled more than 100,000 youth hockey sticks made at its factory in China after random testing by Health Canada found lead in excess of the acceptable limit of 600 parts per million on the sticks.
Last year, provincial government testing showed more than half of the 60 school districts in British Columbia had unsafe levels of lead in drinking water sources in 2016 and early 2017. The testing was ordered after a Vancouver Sun investigation. Mitigation work, including replacing lead pipes and fixtures and installing filters, is ongoing across B.C. The plumbing code was revised to limit the use of lead in potable water lines after 1990.
Article by Glenda Luymes for the Vancouver Sun