The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule governing the work of professional remodelers in homes built before 1978 took effect on April 22, 2010.
The rule addresses remodeling and renovation projects for all residential and multifamily structures built prior to 1978 that disturb more than six square feet of painted surfaces inside the home or 20 square feet on the exterior of the home, due to possible lead paint contamination.
The EPA rule lists prohibited work practices, including open-torch burning and using high-heat guns and high-speed equipment such as grinders and sanders unless equipped with a HEPA filter. It also requires a cleaning inspection after the work is completed.
Additionally, the rule establishes required lead-safe work practices, including sharing a copy of Renovate Right with the home owner, posting warning signs for occupants and visitors; using disposable plastic drop cloths; cleaning the work area with HEPA vacuuming and wet washing; and individual certification through a training course.
The full rule and brochures for consumers can be downloaded from the EPA’s Web site.
A 2006 NAHB study on lead-safe work practices showed that a home was better off after a remodel than before, as long as the work was performed by trained remodelers who clean the work area with HEPA-equipped vacuums, wet washing and disposable drop cloths.
Tips for Home Owners
- Hire a Certified Renovator for your home remodeling
Professional remodelers who have achieved EPA Lead-Safe Certification are trained and prepared to work in pre-1978 homes for minimizing dust and potential lead paint exposures. These workers also have certified their firms and will carry an EPA seal verifying their qualifications to follow lead-safe work practices. Certified Renovators have the knowledge and tools to contain dust and keep your family safe. Do not attempt remodeling work yourself or hire an uncertified remodeler as this puts you at risk of lead poisoning.
- Read Renovate Right.
Your Certified Renovator will provide you a copy of the Renovate Right brochure produced by the EPA. This brochure describes the dangers of lead poisoning and how the practices of the remodeler will be employed to contain dust, clean, and minimize the dangers of lead paint exposure.
- Pay attention to warning signs and do not enter
The Certified Renovator will post warning signs and set up areas of containment using plastic to keep dust under control. Pay attention to these notices and stay away from these areas. The remodeler uses these techniques and lead-safe work practices to minimize lead dust exposure.
- Consider testing for lead.
You may ask the Certified Renovator to use LeadCheck test kits for testing certain surfaces for lead. If the test comes back negative, the remodeler will not need to use lead safe work practices because the component has tested lead-free. A home owner may alternatively hire a certified risk assessor or lead inspector to conduct testing in the home for lead. Any pre-1978 home can be tested for lead and if the results are negative, the EPA lead rule does not apply.
- Maintain records about your home remodel.
After the remodeling job is complete the EPA Certified Renovator will share records with you, such as a checklist describing the work practices used and any results from lead testing. Be sure to keep these records and share them with the next home owner if you should sell your home.
Learn more about EPA's lead paint rule by visiting www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm or by downloading the pamphlet, Renovate Right.