By Jim Hughes, Fort Rucker Public AffairsSeptember 17, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The threat to people's health from lead-based paint is very low in Fort Rucker on-post housing, according to the garrison commander who hosted a Lead Hazards in Army Housing Town Hall Sept. 13 in the post theater.
Of the 1,476 homes located on Fort Rucker, only 108 classic homes in Munson Heights have lead-based paint in them, said Col. Brian E. Walsh.
"That doesn't mean it hasn't been contained," he said, adding that the units will be inspected per Army direction to ensure no unsafe conditions exist.
In those homes with lead-based paint, the hazard is eliminated by its being encapsulated or removed, both Army- and Environmental Protection Agency-approved solutions, according to Ed Janasky, director of the Fort Rucker Directorate of Public Works.
"Say you have cabinets that were painted years ago with lead paint, you can put coats of paint over that and encapsulate it," he said. "As long as it's not peeling or chipping or something like that, that's an acceptable way to deal with it. If we come in and do work in that area, you're going to find we're going to take out that paint completely, so a lot of it in these houses has been removed over time."
People living in the classic homes who notice chipped or peeling paint, or damage that might expose old paint should put in a work order at http://rucker.corviasmilitaryliving.com/work-order, or, if it's an emergency, call it in at 1-866-575-2027.
Other housing units in Munson Heights, along with all of the housing in the rest of the neighborhoods on post, were completely renovated -- either down to the slabs or to the frames -- in recent years, so there is no lead-based paint present in those homes, Janasky said, adding that housing inspections are conducted annually and include surveys of paint.
The threat from lead contamination does come in forms other than paint or water, he added. "You can have someone coming into the home from working at ammunition range and get lead-based contamination transferred in from a secondary source like that."
He added that the risk can take other forms, as well, including older toys, utensils, food, cosmetics and hobby materials.
"As for our water, it's tested annually and there's never been an issue," Janasky said.
And lead-based contamination has not been a health issue at Fort Rucker, according to Lt. Col. Jimmie Tolvert, Lyster Army Health Clinic commander.
"There is no safe level of exposure to lead. We test for it in children," he said. "We test a 2, 6, 12 and 18 months. We test kids who we know live in housing and we test for symptoms regularly. But if anyone has any health concerns, contact your health care provider."
People can find out more about the risks of lead-based paint at the Army Public Health Center web page at https://phc.amedd.Army.mil/topics/workplacehealth/ih/Pages/Lead.aspx. Other resources include the EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and people's health care providers.
One person among the 19 residents in attendance brought up that she lived in one of the classic homes and she suspected her house had some paint damage. Walsh asked her to get with the DPW and Corvias Military Living representatives who were in attendance after the meeting for direction on getting immediate action.
"You're our priority right now -- I'm thankful you're here," he said.
The bottom line is that Fort Rucker and Army leadership care, said William G. "Bill" Kidd, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker deputy to the command general.
"Many of you are concerned parents, family members, people who live here, just like me," he said, adding that he lives in one of the classic homes. "The Army has said they are absolutely not going to allow any Soldier or family member or anyone living on its installations to live in unsafe conditions. We will continue to do tests and we'll be totally transparent about the risks we see from our testing in homes or water sources here."