As we consult with homeowners, we find that many of them aren’t fully aware of Federal regulations pertaining to lead-based paint that may affect the smallest of home remodeling project – even replacing one window. This law requires contractors to engage in “lead-safe work practices” when working on homes built before 1978.
As many consumers already know, lead was added to paint for a number of years – up until 1978, when it was officially banned from residential construction. However, before then lead paint was used in more than 38 millionhomes, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Since April 2010, remodelers must be lead-paint certified and follow specific guidelines to prevent lead contamination. Such projects include any repair, renovation and/or painting project that disturbs lead-based paint in homes, childcare facilities and schools built before 1978. The list of contractors that this affects is extensive. Besides remodelers and carpenters, other trades include plumbers, heating and air conditioning contractors, painters and window installers, just to name a few.
If you are a homeowner of a home built prior to 1978, it is important that you select a remodeler who is trained and certified in lead-safe practices. Sure, if lead is detected in your home, it is more expensive to work with a certified remodeler, but don’t cut corners by working with a contractor that doesn’t have the proper training.
Lead Paint Dangers
The remodeling process disturbs the lead paint – leaving behind dust from sanding, which can be breathed in, and paint splinters and chips that a small child or pet could ingest. In young children, lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, hearing loss and behavior problems. In adults, lead poisoning can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure. Pregnant women run the risk of passing the poison on to their unborn child.
What Are Lead-Safe Work Practices? The EPA offers a free brochure on its website called “Renovate Right” that provides guidance to homeowners and contractors about the safe removal of lead paint. Any contractor should follow specific work practices, including these three simple procedures:
1. Contain the work area. The first step to creating a lead-safe work area is to contain the area that is being disturbed. This involves sealing off the area by using heavy-duty plastic and tape – everything from doors to vents to the floor and furniture will all be covered in plastic. It may look like a bit of a contamination area you see in movies, but it is important to keep the dust and debris in one zone of your home and not airborne or tracked elsewhere.
2. Minimize dust. Although your remodeler can’t eliminate the dust created from a home improvement project, paint removal methods do exist that create less dust than others, such as using water to mist areas before sanding or scraping. Contractors will also attach a HEPA filter vacuum to their power tools.
3. Scrupulous cleanup. Once the work is completed and before taking down the plastic that isolates the work area from the rest of the home, the area will be meticulously cleaned using a HEPA vacuum on all surfaces, followed by wet mopping.
Taking these steps ensures that all the lead particles have been removed and your family is safe from the harmful effects of lead. To get your lead-safe certified guide to renovating right, visit: https://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovaterightbrochure.pdf