The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently enacted a new regulation to help reduce the possibility of lead poisoning among children when their homes are being remodeled. Homes built before 1978, when the substance was banned, are more likely to have surfaces containing lead paint. The EPA estimates approximately 38 million homes in the United States may contain lead paint.
The Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule requires that remodelers and other contractors who disturb painted surfaces as part of their renovations in pre-1978 homes become trained and certify their firms. These renovators are educated about the rule and will explain the requirements to home owners, employ lead-safe work practices, contain applicable work areas, clean up after working, and maintain records proscribed by the EPA. The EPA has authorized the WA Department of Commerce to administer the rule.
The owners of residences built before 1978 should ask remodelers and other contractors if theirs is a “Lead-Safe Certified Firm” by the EPA. These renovators will understand how to protect your family from potential lead hazards because they have been trained and certified under the EPA regulation. Certified firms can display a “Lead-Safe Certified Firm” seal with their firm’s approval number to verify their professional credentials.
Potential remodeling customers may be tempted to attempt remodeling work themselves or hire a contractor who may be cheaper and willing to skirt the law by not following the lead paint regulation. However, when there is lead paint present, failing to hire a professionally trained and certified remodeler risks the health of anyone living in the home by greatly increasing the chances of exposure to its dust. Children under age six are most susceptible to lead poisoning, which results in developmental delay and long-term disabilities.
Professional remodelers who have become EPA “Lead-Safe Certified” possess the training, skills, and specialized equipment to conduct remodeling projects and protect residents from lead hazards.
Certified remodelers contain lead paint work areas in plastic and use methods of managing dust to prevent lead exposure. Techniques used include misting dust, avoiding burning or high-speed scraping devices, followed by thorough cleaning with high-filtration vacuums. The dust is trapped and safely disposed of. Certified remodelers also maintain records, such as a work practice checklist that documents the use of lead-safe activities. Only these remodelers have the training and tools to complete a remodeling job successfully and safely in these homes.