Dealing with Lead Hazards

You’ve probably heard or read that lead can be hazardous to human health. In children, it can cause nervous system disorders; in adults, it can lead to high blood pressure and hypertension. Although we frequently hear about lead in paint chips, the greatest exposure comes from lead dust. The problem of exposure to lead in your home, particularly during renovations, is so potentially harmful that the EPA now enforces special regulations for those situations.

Since April 2010, rules known as the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program, or RRP, have been in effect. RRP affects contractors, property managers, and others who disturb painted surfaces and it can be applicable for any house or child-occupied facility (usually day care centers and schools) built before 1978.

The program requires renovators to carryout several duties under threat of severe penalties for failure to act lawfully.

  • Before renovation begins, the contractor must provide the property owner with lead safety information (by supplying an EPA pamphlet known as “RENOVATE RIGHT”.)
  • Through sampling and analysis by an approved laboratory or through the use of EPA-approved test kits when the presence of lead is in question.
  • Renovators must meet certain requirements:
    • Their companies must be certified by the EPA
    • Renovation personnel on a project must be trained and certified or be trained and supervised by a Certified Renovator.
    • They must follow very specific lead-safe work practices while the job is being performed, including setting up proper lead containment measures, and during the critical cleanup phase.
    • They must maintain related records.

All of these actions are designed to minimize the generation of lead dust, securely contain and minimize exposure to it, and safely remove any contamination from the home/facility.

But what’s your stake in all this? How does it impact you?

It means:

  • That when lead is present, you need to be careful to only use Certified Renovators and Firms.
  • You should request to see their certifications and ask about what lead-safe work practices will be used throughout the project.

Any home remodeler that does not follow RRP is exposed to large potential fines ($37,500 per violation per day), which can make it difficult to remain in business for very long. In that kind of situation you run the risk that the remodeler might no longer being available when you need adjustments or warrantee repairs in the years ahead.

More importantly, you want trained and certified people working on your home. Why? Because it’s your way to maximize protection of yourself, of your family and of the value of your home.

For additional information on the topic, I recommend that you read Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools (http://epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm). For a more in-depth look, see EPA Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right, which can be found at http://epa.gov/lead/pubs/sbcomplianceguide.pdf