The EPA requires remodelers to become certified to work in pre-1978 homes
(LoanSafe.org) – Des Plaines, IL – March 15, 2010 – The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is making homeowners aware of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) regulations that will take effect April 22, 2010, requiring remodelers working in homes built before 1978 to follow practices designed to minimize the exposure of residents to lead hazards.
“Long-term lead exposure to children under the age of six can cause developmental brain problems,” says Rich Cowgill, CR, GCP, of Cowgill Builders, Inc. dba Vision Design and Build, Inc. Cowgill is not only a Certified Renovator but also an EPA/National Center for Health Housing, Accredited Lead Trainer for Public Health and Safety, Inc. in Chicago. According to Cowgill, it doesn’t take a lot of lead to be hazardous to one’s health. Long-term exposure leading to 10 micrograms (µg) of lead per deciliter in an individuals’ blood lead level (BLL) is enough to permanently harm a child’s development.
According to a report by the President’s Task force on Environmental Health and Safety Risks to Children, approximately 24 million pre-1978 U.S. dwellings were at risk for lead-based paint hazards. In light of these prominent health risks, contractors must go through an 8-hour training to certify at least one person to supervise the renovation of target housing (pre-1978) homes, and the contracting firm must be a Certified Firm with the EPA if they intend to work in pre-1978 homes.
“Lead training through an accredited program consists of six hours educational learning on the dangers of lead and required lead-safe practices as identified by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),” Cowgill says. The remainder of the day includes two hours of hands-on training—the procedure of setting up the containment area, improved cleaning methods, the cleaning verification test and the disposal of hazardous materials. Finally, certification is provided pending a written exam.
Contractor firms who intend to work in pre-1978 homes are required to register with the EPA. Both the Certified Firm registration and the Certified Renovator supervision are required under the RRP rule. Homeowners must be cognizant that these certifications reflect the state that work is being conducted and are accessible from the work site at all times. Note that states are able to require more stringent criteria in addition to the EPA’s criteria, and homeowners should be aware of the law’s in their state by contacting their State Departments of Public Health’s Lead Division. Find your state’s health department and services here http://www.statelocalgov.net/50states-health.cfm.
“Certified Renovators are legally allowed to provide others (employees) with a less formal onsite lead training as long as they supervise the lead-safe renovations,” Cowgill says. “The law requires the Certified Renovator to be physically present during the posting of the signs notifying the public of the work site, during the work area containment and during the final clean-up portion of the project and the Certified Renovator must be available by phone throughout the duration of the project.”
Contractors are required to document the lead-safe work practices used during the project and keep those documents on file for a minimum of three years after completion. The EPA’s “Renovate Right” brochure must be signed by the homeowner to signal their awareness of lead safety and practices in their homes before work begins. Homeowners can insist on having the Certified Renovator test for the presence of lead in their homes, and then the Certified Firm must give homeowners a copy of the test results within 30 days of the completion of the RRP work.
Cowgill adds that pre-renovation testing is not required by the homeowners, as everyone must adhere to the lead-safe practices whether or not lead testing proved that lead exists in the home. The current test only proves the absence of lead, not the presence of lead-based paint. It is best to presume the possibility of lead.
The following is a checklist for homeowners living in pre-1978 homes:
* Verify that your contractor’s firm is registered with the EPA.
* Verify at least one person is a Certified Renovator and has documented the training of the work crew and is supervising the work being completed in the home.
* Know that these certifications are accessible at the work site at all times.
* Firms must post signs before renovation begins, clearly defining the work area and warning occupants and other persons not involved in renovation activities to remain outside of the work area.
* Make sure you understand and sign the EPA’s “Renovate Right” brochure.
* Remove all belongings from the immediate area of the renovation.
* Notice if your contractor is using plastic sheeting that is taped 6 feet beyond the perimeter of surfaces undergoing renovation; reusable cloth coverings are not acceptable.
* Renovators should be cleaning up and mopping daily to minimize dust contamination.
* Contractors must use HEPA vacuums and/or wet mopping to remove lead particles.
* Depending on the scope of project, renovators may be wearing disposable suits, to minimize their exposure to lead.
* All contaminated materials should be placed in heavy duty plastic bags before your contractor disposes of them.
As a homeowner, if your renovator is skipping any steps of the checklist, you may want to contact the EPA to file an official complaint. Contractors who fail to comply with the RRP rule, are eligible for a fine of $37,500 per day.
The EPA also recommends that homeowners have the remodelers specify what the final lead inspection entails. Currently, the RRP rule requires contractors to conduct a cleaning verification test that consists of wiping an area with a damp cloth and comparing the results with a cleaning verification card to ensure the sample matches or is lighter than the required sample. If the surface within the work area is greater than 40 square feet, the surface within the work area must be divided into roughly equal sections that are each less than 40 square feet and wiped separately.
If a homeowner has any doubts about the quality of lead safe practices being conducted in their homes, they can call (800) 424-LEAD. To read the full RRP rule, visit www.EPA.gov/lead.
NARI can connect you with remodel-ready contractors who will take care of the entire remodeling process. Find a NARI member on www.NariRemodelers.com. For green remodeling information, please visit www.greenremodeling.org.
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The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is the only trade association dedicated solely to the remodeling industry. With more than 8,200 member companies nationwide, the Association — based in Des Plaines, Illinois — is “The Voice of the Remodeling Industry.”™ To locate a local NARI chapter or a remodeling professional, visit NARI’s Web site at www.nariremodelers.com, or contact the national headquarters office at 800-611-NARI.
My name is Maurice “Moe” Bedard. I am the founder of America’s #1 Mortgage Forum, LoanSafe.org. My online work has been featured in the New York Times, LA Times, Fox Business, and many other media publications.