Federal law requires that contractors performing renovation work that disturbs in any way painted surfaces on homes built from 1978 and prior to be an EPA certified contractor.
The EPA has put together a guide for contractors providing these types of renovations in a pamphlet entitled Renovate Right-Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools. This information is required by law to be provided to the owner of the structure having work done by the EPA certified contractor. Whether you are a contractor or Do-it-yourselfer you can call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD and ask for more information on how to work safely in a home with lead based paint.
The primary reason this law has come to be is to protect you, your children, friends and visitors from being exposed to lead contamination. Lead contamination can occur from swallowing dust particles while children eat, play and do other normal hand to mouth activities. Lead can seriously affect a child’s brain and nervous system. The effects can include learning disabilities, reduced IQ, as well as behavioral problems. Lead exposure can also be harmful to adults. Renovations that disturb lead based paint can create dust filled with lead particles that can be very harmful to you and the ones you love, so always follow EPA Guidelines and if you contract out the project use a Certified EPA contractor.
When contractors or do it yourselfer’ sand, scrape, burn or pressure wash lead based painted surfaces the resulting dust or fumes can create the risk of exposure to lead. An EPA certified contractor will use proper work practices to protect you from the dust. This includes containing and minimizing dust inside the work area by sealing off work areas, doors, heating and cooling vents, and covering floors and furniture that can not be removed. And EPA certified contractor will use dust minimizing work methods such as using power tools equipped with an HEPA vacuum attachment, and conducting a careful cleanup. A thorough cleanup done by an EPA certified contractor will not only include using a HEPA vacuum to clean up dust and debris from all surfaces but will also include wet mopping using plenty of rinse water. An EPA certified contractor will use disposable cleaning cloths to wipe the area down and then compare them to a cleaning verification card to determine if the work area is properly cleaned. Find more information about lead based exposure and proper lead safe work practices at www.epa.gov/lead/index.html.