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Public Facilities Environmental Safety Amendment Act of 2020

Executive Summary

With the passage of the Public Facilities Environmental Safety Amendment Act of 2020, the D.C. Council amended the Healthy Public Buildings Assessment Act of 2016 and the Safe Fields and Playgrounds Act of 2018. As a result, the Department of General Services (DGS) has expanded its frequency and scope of testing for environmental risks in all DGS owned and managed public buildings, as well as expanded lead testing at all recreational spaces with synthetic surfaces (e.g., parks, dog parks, playgrounds, spray parks, athletic fields, and other spaces used for recreational activities owned or maintained by the District).

To view the full amendment and law, visit: D.C. Law 23-233. Public Facilities Environmental Safety Amendment Act of 2020.

The Process

As a result of the Public Facilities Environmental Safety Amendment Act of 2020, DGS is planning to conduct the following activities to meet requirements and keep the public informed:

I. Testing

DGS shall conduct lead testing of all public recreational space surfaces (e.g., playgrounds, fields, etc.) composed of, in whole or in part, synthetic materials on a staggered, three-year cycle, using testing practices recommended by ASTM International (formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials) or a similar testing standards organization. That means each recreational space with synthetic surfaces is tested for lead every three years, at a minimum.

DGS shall also conduct environmental hazard studies of all public buildings to identify risks across 17 categories on a staggered, 10-year cycle. That means that each building is tested every 10 years, at a minimum. The categories to be tested include:

  1. Indoor air quality
  2. Outdoor air quality
  3. Ventilation and temperature control
  4. Mold or mildew
  5. Pests
  6. The use of any pesticides that are not minimum risk pesticides or organic pesticides
  7. Toxic chemicals and hazardous waste
  8. Asbestos
  9. Lead-based paint
  10. Lead in drinking water
  11. Radon
  12. Carbon monoxide
  13. Groundwater quality
  14. Dust
  15. Gas and diesel emissions
  16. Polychlorinated biphenyls
  17. Volatile organic compounds

II. Community Outreach for Environmental Safety Testing at Public Facilities and Recreational Spaces

The Public Facilities Environmental Safety Amendment Act of 2020 establishes a requirement for communication to the community about environmental testing results and remediation. The steps below summarize DGS’s approach to public notification under the Amendment Act:

Within 24 hours of receiving test results above the allowable threshold at a public facility, DGS will:

  • Isolate the area where the environmental risk is located to safeguard the public until effective remediation occurs. At a recreational space which has actionable lead levels, that includes closure to the public.
  • Keep the area closed until the environmental risk is remediated and a subsequent test determines that the risk is at or below published threshold levels.

Within 10 business days of receiving test results above the allowable threshold at a public facility, DGS will:

  • Post conspicuous signage at the facility or recreation space that includes the reason for the closure, planned remediation, and contact information for a DGS employee.
  • Update its website with the potential environmental risks found, the result of the test for each of those risks, the threshold levels at which remediation measures will be taken, and the planned timeline for remediation.
  • Notify the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner who represents the Single Member District where the facility or recreation space is located.

Within 20 business days of receiving test results above the allowable threshold at a public facility, DGS will:

  • Coordinate with other relevant District agencies to conduct a community meeting to share testing procedures, test results, the remediation process, potential health risks, and the anticipated re-opening date of the facility or recreation space.

Annual Publications

 By July 1 of each year, DGS will publish the following information:

  • Any potential hazards identified at each site
  • The testing methods employed to assess whether the conditions pose an environmental hazard
  • The test results for each potential hazard identified
  • The threshold levels at which remediation measures will be taken
  • Any remediation measures taken

Questions

Contact Mike McLaughlin at [email protected] if you have questions regarding the implementation of the Public Facilities Environmental Safety Amendment Act of 2020 including building and recreational space testing, remediation, and community notification.

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