Get The Lead Out: New EPA Regulations For Renovation & Repair of Pre-1978 Housing

DIY Homeowners

If you are a homeowner performing a DIY 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 Brochure 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.

Contractors

Renovations and repairs of pre-1978 housing must now be conducted under new lead-safe practices mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule.  The Rule requires contractors working in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities to follow a number of prescribed procedures to reduce potential exposure associated with the disturbance of lead-based paint. These include:

  • Minimizing dust
  • Containing the work area
  • Conducting a thorough cleanup

In addition to these work practices, the Rule also includes increased training and certification requirements for firms and individual employees, as well as new verification and record-keeping requirements.  The EPA’s sample pre-renovation disclosure form may be used for this purpose. Violations of the Rule are punishable by fines of $32,500 per violation, per day.

As originally proposed in 2008, the lead-based paint rule included a provision allowing a contractor to opt out of the requirements by obtaining certification from a property owner residing at the work site that no child under age six or pregnant woman resides in the home, and the home is not a child-occupied facility.  This opt-out provision has been eliminated and, there are no exceptions to the new requirements for renovation or repair of any covered structure built before 1978.

With the elimination of the “opt-out” provision, the RRP Rules require that anyone who receives compensation for renovation work at single family homes, multi-family housing and child-occupied facilities (such as day care facilities and schools) built before 1978 must use a certified firm or individual to perform this work. Essentially, this now means that anyone other than the DIY owner/occupant of a single family home is subject to the RRP Rules.

An estimated 80 million homes built before 1978 contain some lead-based paint. The National Association of Home Builders estimates that the new rule could add $500 to $1,500 to the cost of a project estimated at $5,000 or more.

Realtors and Property Management Firms

Realtors and property managers should make themselves aware of the requirements in the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule. The EPA is working with the National Association of Realtors to make realtors and property managers aware of the hazards of lead paint poisoning and ways to prevent it, and the association has developed a series of guidance videos aimed at realtors and property managers:

New Proposals

In addition, on May 6, 2010 the EPA published two more proposals for the lead-based paint program.  The agency proposes to require dust-wipe testing after most renovations and delivery of wipe test results to the owners and occupants of the building. EPA rules for lead-safe work practices to renovations on public and commercial buildings are on the way for industrial and office buildings, government-owned buildings, colleges, museums, airports, hospitals, churches, stores, warehouses and factories.

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