Is Lead-Safe PAINT Remodeling Worth It?

New renovation laws require certified renovators to be on-site to ensure contractors follow practices to prevent lead contamination. Is this too much regulation?

Popular Mechanics Article - is lead safe paint removal worth it?

By Greg Cook, Popular Mechanics, Aug 6, 2010

As of April 22, 2010, federal law requires that all U.S. contractors be certified to work with lead-based paint in homes, child-care facilities and schools built before 1978. Details of the new RRP (Renovation, Repair and Painting) rule appear in a brochure, "Renovate Right," which contractors must give homeowners before work begins. The law requires certified renovators to be on-site to ensure that employees follow specific practices to prevent lead contamination. These include posting warning signs, taping up heavy plastic to contain the work area, minimizing dust by wet sanding, then cleaning with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Certification takes 8 hours of training by an EPA- or state-accredited provider. Not every employee of a remodeling firm needs to be certified, but the firm itself pays to obtain EPA certification. Contractors failing to comply could get hit with a civil penalty of up to $37,500 per incident, per day.

Regulator's Perspective: "Lead poisoning is completely preventable," says Steve Owens, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Exposure can damage young brains and nervous systems, leading to learning disabilities. Children can be exposed directly, or a pregnant mother can pass toxins to a fetus. "The EPA issued RRP," Owens says, "because a disturbing number of America's children are still being poisoned by lead-based paint."

Consumer Advocate's Perspective: Rebecca Morley is executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing, a nonprofit organization that supports the RRP rule. Compliance with the law will protect 1.4 million children under the age of six and 5.4 million adults from lead dust exposure, she says, citing an EPA statement. "To me," Morley says, "the most poignant thing about lead poisoning is that you don't see symptoms in a child until later in life and that the damage is permanent and irreversible."

Homeowner's Perspective: Elizabeth Babbin of Bethlehem, Pa., lives in a stone colonial house built in 1930, so lead paint is a given. Before the new rule took effect, she investigated lead risks to her 4-year-old son. "I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't be for regulation," she says. "I'm surprised there haven't been stronger rules before this." Asked if she would pay as much as $1500 extra to comply with RRP standards on a big remodeling job, she says, "Are you kidding? A child's IQ can drop I don't know how many points. You can't put a price on that."

EPA Certified Firm logo

EXOVATIONS® is an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Firm

EXOVATIONS® EPA Certification Number is NAT-37635-2.

Make sure that you check that your contractor is EPA certified.

epa lead safe certified brochure

Want to learn more?

Contractors are required to provide you with a copy of the EPA's lead hazard information pamphlet Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools. As of April 22, 2010, homeowners will also sign a pre-renovation form documenting that they have received this pamphlet. After completion of work, they will also receive a report that documents the lead safe work practices used.

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click here for more information regarding the new EPA Lead Safety Rule on the EPA website or call the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) at 1-800-424-LEAD.

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