EPA Creates Rules for Lead SafetyPosted February 23rd, 2010 by tina
For years we’ve heard about problems where children have been exposed to lead paint, mostly from eating paint chips. Lead is a poison and it damages the children’s nervous system which causes problems in their physical, intellectual and emotional development. There are similar problems for pregnant women and adults in general.
There have been rules for de-leading rental properties for years but now the EPA, effective April 2010, has new rules that affect all renovation, repair and painting projects in homes built before 1978, as paint with lead was not legally sold after 1978.
The impact is already being felt across the construction industry as all contractors (includes carpenters, electricians, plumbers, window installers, painters), property managers and others involved in any type of home renovation, repair and painting work in residential houses, apartments and child-occupied facilities built before 1978, are required to get certified. I’ll be taking my 8 hour, certification class in early March while I’ve already submitted certification application to the EPA due to extended lead times.
Lead Safety Precautions for Home Owners
As the new rules take effect in April 2010, home owners should be aware of the following processes that must be followed for all home projects (I’ll share more details after I complete the class).
Pre-renovation education is where contractors need to give home owners the EPA’s lead pamphlet (download and read Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home), and don’t be surprised when you’re asked to sign to confirm receipt (or we can mail it to you, and file a post office receipt).
- Information signs must be placed near the work site to alert everyone that only workers with protective clothing, following rules they’ve been trained to use, may enter the work area.
- Companies must be certified, and their workers or “renovators” trained.
- Lead safe work practices, as prescribed by the EPA, must be followed:
- Inside: plastic should be used to protect all surfaces in the work area, plus plastic barriers at entrances to the work area to prevent dust and debris from leaving the work area.
- Outside: involves covering the ground and plants with heavy plastic sheeting that extends at least 10 feet out from the building.
- Workers must wear protective clothing to insure they don’t breathe lead dust, or let it touch their skin where it can be absorbed. Clothing includes safety goggles/glasses, a painter’s hat, coveralls, shoe covers and rubber gloves.
- There are guidelines for power tools (must have HEPA exhaust control) and open-flame burning (must keep heat below 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Clean up is a key step in the process with verification testing to minimize exposure to lead based paint hazard.
When Don’t You Need to Follow Lead Safety Rules
Here are the steps to follow if you, the home owner, question following the rules … although they’re not recommended:
- Homes built after 1978 are not subject to these rules. A certified lead-based paint inspector or risk assessor can test the work area to determine if lead is present. The testing involves a surface-by-surface investigation to collect paint chips for laboratory analysis.
- The rules exclude minor repair and maintenance activities less than 6 square feet per interior room, or 20 square feet per exterior project. Never exempt … window replacement and demolition.
- The home owner can sign a statement for work in their residence … if no children under 6 live there, no woman who lives there is pregnant and the owner acknowledges that the renovation firm will not be required to use the work practices contained in the EPA lead rules.
- Owners are not required (still recommended) to follow the rules when doing work on their own home. The risk still exists and lead safe work practices should be followed to protect yourself, your family and the value of your home on resale.