As of October 1, 2019, the lead hazard mitigation program has been assimilated into the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) Lead Based Paint Program. This is a lead safety initiative to create one comprehensive, compliance driven integrated Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. (This program was previously housed in the Housing Resources Commission (HRC) which had no enforcement powers, limited outreach and as a result had a very low level of community compliance. This reorganization provides RIDOH with the resources to practice primary prevention of lead hazards and to reduce the number of lead-poisoned children.
As background, the RIDOH and the HRC administer lead programs that are mandated by different laws and have different focuses. RIDOH’s program focuses on identifying lead poisoned children and reducing exposures that cause that poisoning (secondary prevention) while HRC’s focus is on administering the Certificate of Lead Conformance (CLC) program, which is designed to limit lead hazards in rental properties (primary prevention). However, many of the functions of the agencies’ lead programs, including training, licensing, inspection, hazard reduction and enforcement, are highly interconnected. Inconsistencies in the agencies’ enabling legislation, regulations and program implementation were confusing to the regulated community and limited the effectiveness of both programs. That lack of alignment, in concert with resource and enforcement limitations, impeded the efforts to reduce the incidence of lead poisoning in RI and to increase the number of rental units that comply with CLC requirements. RIDOH has the statutory authority to enforce lead licensure and lead safe work practice requirements while demonstrating a field presence all leading to a stronger, more protective and effective lead program.