Health Matters: Lead Paint, Contractors and Safe Renovations
Painting your home? Needham Health Department provides important information you need to know about lead paint
The following was submitted by the Needham Health Department:
Painting Your Home?
Was your home built before 1978? If so, you need to be concerned about the presence of lead paint before you do any interior or exterior renovations.
This is a reminder that in April 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) federal law started requiring contractors that disturb painted surfaces in homes (inside and outside), child care facilities and schools, built before 1978 to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Always ask to see your contractor’s certification, also know as their Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) certification.
Federal law requires that individuals receive certain information before renovating six square feet or more of painted surfaces in a room for interior projects or more than twenty square feet of painted surfaces for exterior projects or window replacement or demolition in housing, child care facilities and schools built before 1978.
If lead is inhaled or ingested, it may cause lead poisoning. Lead-based paint does not pose a health threat until the paint is disturbed. This can be a product of age or harsh weather, resulting in chipping, peeling or flaking paint.
Renovation activities can also disturb subsurface layers of lead-based paint. Activities such as dry scraping, sanding or drilling can produce lead dust and lead paint chips. Any of these conditions may contribute to lead poisoning.
Home improvement activities should either be performed using lead-safe renovation techniques or by hiring acertified lead-safe renovator. Lead-safe renovators have been trained in lead-safe renovation procedures.
These renovators are in turn certified by the state. However, each state has their own name for this category of worker: In Massachusetts, it is Lead-Safe Renovator.
Make sure your contractor is certified, and can explain clearly the details of the job and how the contractor will minimize lead hazards during the work.
You can also ask to see a copy of the contractor’s firm certification.
- Before they start the job, ask the contractor if they are trained to perform lead-safe work practices and to see a copy of their training certificate.
- Ask them what lead-safe methods they will use to set up and perform the job in your home, child care facility or school.
- Ask for references from at least three recent jobs involving homes built before 1978, and speak to each personally.
- Always make sure the contract is clear about how the work will be set up, performed, and cleaned.
- Share the results of any previous lead tests with the contractor.
- The contract should specify which parts of your home are part of the work area and specify which lead-safe work practices will be used in those areas. Remember, your contractor should confine dust and debris to the work area and should minimize spreading that dust to other areas of the home.
- The contract should also specify that the contractor will clean the work area, verify that it was cleaned adequately, and re-clean it if necessary. If you think a worker is not doing what he is supposed to do or is doing something that is unsafe, you should:
Direct the contractor to comply with regulatory and contract requirements;
Call your local health or building department;
or Call EPA's hotline 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).
RRP Certification and Massachusetts' Lead Laws
Here is some additional important information to keep in mind - There are only 2 major differences between an EPA Certified Renovator and a MA Lead Safe Renovator. First, Massachusetts' law requires that the Lead Safe Renovator be present at all times during the work. This differs from the EPA's rule, which only requires that the Certified Renovator supervising either be reachable by phone or nearby. So if you are working in Massachusetts you should be conscious of who is present at the job site.
The other major difference that a Certified Renovator should be aware of is that reusable drop cloths (containment) can be used while working outside in Massachusetts. This contradicts the EPA's RRP Rule which requires that outdoor containment be disposed of at the end of the work day.
While all these regulations and laws regarding lead paint may seem like a nuisance, they are in place for the safety of both others and yourself.
A Certified Renovator in any state must be working for a Certified Firm. Unlike the EPA's RRP Rule,Massachusetts lead paint safety laws require that firms be certified with the State of Massachusetts. You can visit the http://www.mass.gov/lwd/labor-standards/lead-program/ website to find a current list of certified companies.
If you are looking for more information on the subject, or would like to be trained, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development – Department of Labor Standards website has a list Certified LeadSafe Renovation training providers @ http://www.mass.gov/lwd/docs/dos/lead-asbestos/lead/la-rpt-list-dt.pdf.
For more information on lead-safe renovations, you should check out the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) Lead program online at http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/lead/, or call the MA Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP) at (617) 284-8400. For additional information, please contact the Needham Health Department at (781) 455-7500; Ext 511.