Remodeling University: New Lead-Paint Regulations

On April 22, 2010 a new EPA rule will become effective. You need to know about this rule and what it entails if you have a remodeling project in your future.

In essence, starting on April 22, 2010, remodelers, renovators, painters, drywall contractors or anyone working on your home doing remediation work or any kind or remodeling work (inside or out) – will need to be certified by the EPA and use lead-safe work practices during renovations, repair and painting operations, providing your home was built prior to 1978.

Why should you care?
1. If your home was built prior to 1978 odds are good lead paint is present (the older it is- the better the odds).
2. There are serious health risks associated with lead exposure. Kids and pregnant women are at the highest risk.
3. Lead poisoning symptoms are easily misinterpreted by physicians, increasing the likelihood of permanent damage.
4. Renovation activities that disturb lead-based paint create dust. Lead-contaminated dust is poisonous!

So what’s in this rule? Here are some of the highlights:
1. Companies performing the work must be certified.
2. A Certified Renovator must be on-site with the crew.
3. Entire crew must be trained in special practices designed to minimize and mitigate dust exposure.
4. Crew will need to be equipped with special tools to perform the work according to the prescribed practice.
5. Your contractor must provide you with an informative EPA brochure and you will be asked to approve that you got it.
6. Specific procedures are prescribed and must be observed so that your home, your family, your neighbors and the workers are not exposed to lead-contaminated dust. This is the ‘meat’ of the matter.

Note: the EPA rule applies to all interior work where more than 6 square feet of paint area is involved and/or exterior work involving more than 20 square feet. Local ordinances might be even more restrictive than that!

While the EPA curiously estimates the cost of these measure at an average of $35 per job, I anticipate real-world costs to be much higher, especially in California. One of the reasons for that is the fact that in most of the country it is possible to follow the EPA rule as prescribed and dispose of the suspected lead-contained paint debris in the home’s trash. But, in California this waste might be considered hazardous waste and so regular disposal in the home’s trash or even as construction debris might not be permitted. Disposing of hazardous waste this way it strictly prohibited in California and carries very heavy fines. On the other hand, disposing of hazardous waste properly is a very expensive proposition.

There are currently no clear guidelines on this issue and at the present the EPA rule, as I understand it, is in disagreement with both California’s AND OSHA’s regulations in this regard. Stay tuned.

Happy remodeling and keep your family healthy and safe!

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