Lead paint rules when remodeling

“Are you certified for Lead Paint?” This is the question you need to be asking your contractor(s) if you are planning a project on your home built prior to 1978.

If you are planning a remodel on your home that was built prior to 1978 there are new rules that dictate whom can do the work on your home and the procedures they must adhere to. Firms and the employees handling a remodel or renovation on a home built prior to 1978 must be certified. To get certified the firm and the employee must attend training and pay a fee to the EPA.

As reported by the National Association of Home Builders:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule governing the work of professional remodelers in homes where there is lead-based paint was published in the Federal Register on Earth Day, April 22. The rule took effect April 22, 2010.

The rule addresses remodeling and renovation projects disturbing more than six square feet of potentially contaminated painted surfaces for all residential and multifamily structures built prior to 1978 that are inhabited or frequented by pregnant women and children under the age of six.

It requires a cleaning inspection after the work is completed and grants the remodeler flexibility in determining the size of the work area, which can reduce the size of the area subject to containment.

The EPA rule also lists prohibited work practices ― including open-torch burning and using high-heat guns and high-speed equipment such as grinders and sanders unless equipped with a HEPA filter.

Additionally, the rule establishes required lead-safe work practices, including posting warning signs for occupants and visitors; using disposable plastic drop cloths; cleaning the work area with HEPA vacuuming and wet washing; and individual certification through a training course.

The full rule and brochures for consumers and renovators can be downloaded from the EPA’s Web site.

Information for homeowners working on their own home

If you are a homeowner performing renovation, repair, or painting work in your own home, EPA’s RRP rule does not cover your project. However, you have the ultimate responsibility for the safety of your family or children in your care. If you are living in a pre-1978 home and planning to do painting or repairs, please read a copy of EPA’s Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools (PDF) lead hazard information pamphlet.  You may also want to call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323) and ask for more information on how to work safely in a home with lead-based paint.