Tami Michaels: Inside Out

Alert: New lead surface laws

Alert: New lead surface laws »Play Video

In April of this year the EPA implemented laws with regard to RRP (Renovation, Repair, and Paint Program) that are designed to protect us from lead based paints. Failure to comply with these laws can lead to a $37,500 per day fine. 

Lead paint is among the most dangerous neurotoxins known today especially to children under the age of six. Most people aren't aware that lead remains a top environmental health hazard for US children. More than one in 25 American children have blood lead levels high enough to lower IQ or cause learning disabilities, violent behavior, attention-deficit disorder or hyperactivity. (Ref. Dr. Greene.com)

The Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program is a federal regulatory program affecting contractors, property managers, and others who disturb painted surfaces. It applies to residential houses, apartments, and child-occupied facilities such as schools and day-care centers built before 1978. It includes pre-renovation education requirements as well as training, certification, and work practice requirements for those certified to work with lead based paint.

*What does the RRP Program require?

-Distribute the Renovate Right Pamphlet before the work starts
-Firms working on lead based surfaces must be certified.
-Renovators must be trained.
-Lead-safe work practices must be followed. Examples of these practices include:
-Work-area containment to prevent dust and debris from leaving the work area.
-Prohibition of certain work practices like open-flame burning and the use of power tools without HEPA exhaust control.
-Thorough clean up followed by a verification procedure to minimize exposure to lead-based paint hazards.

*How does a Firm get certified?   Firms may apply to EPA for certification to perform renovations or dust sampling. To apply, a firm must submit to EPA a completed "Application for Firms," signed by an authorized agent of the firm, and pay the correct amount of fees.

*How to get trained and certified as a Renovator?   To become a Certified Renovator, an individual must successfully complete an eight-hour initial renovator training course offered by an accredited training provider (training providers are accredited by EPA, or by an authorized state or tribal program). The course completion certificate serves as proof of certification.

*What happens if there is a violation of the RRP Rule?  EPA uses a variety of methods to determine whether businesses are complying, including inspecting work sites, reviewing records and reports, and responding to citizen tips and complaints. EPA may file an enforcement action against violators seeking penalties of up to $37,500 per violation, per day. The proposed penalty in a given case will depend on many factors, including the number, length, and severity of the violations. (* info provided by Builder Scout)

The EPA does not recommend that DIY'er attempt to test for lead.  However, there are test kits available at box stores and online.  The cost of the test kit is around $20.  The fines for noncompliance do not appear to be directed DIY'er at this time.  Homeowners must disclose the test results for lead when selling a home.  The cost to train and acquire the necessary equipment for a contractor to meet the requirements is around $2K-$3K.

The bottom line is that lead is a very dangerous neurotoxin (and not just to children).  Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems. It interferes with the development of the nervous system and is therefore particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders. Symptoms include abdominal pain, headache, anemia, irritability, and in severe cases seizures, coma, and death. 

Home built after 1978 may also have lead based paint and parents and property owners may also wish to take safeguards when renovating or repairing lead surfaces.  Send me an email if you have any questions.


Tami Michaels