New EPA Lead Regulations May Affect You

by Owen Sechrist

The EPA is instituting new regulations that are going to have a major impact on owners of homes built prior to 1978.  There is a huge outcry and hot debate among contractors(the ones that are aware of the new regs) over the practicality of these regulations in the face of the monetary impact on homeowners, as well as the effect it will have on companies trying to play by the new rules while competing with operators who ignore them. I have two major issues with the new regulations: 1. The EPA vastly underestimates the cost per project for compliance 3. Some of the requirements to comply are both impractical and unecessary. One of my colleagues, Sean of SLS Construction, wrote an article that gives an overview of how the new regulations apply:

LEAD, the EPA, and You – a quick primer for Home Owners, Rental Owners, and Contractor’s regarding Renovation’s of pre-1978 houses

As I mentioned in a prior article, the EPA has released new regulations concerning LEAD in houses built before 1978. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of confusion out there on the subject and many contractors still don’t know this is coming. One quick example involves an ADECA class on weatherization projects for the Department of Energy that I attended this week. I ended up correcting quite a bit of the information stated or in some cases informing them of other items that were completely left out by the instructors. As a quick FYI – this primer is being limited to residential single-family dwellings and the EPA guidelines on the training and certification part only. I plan on additional articles on many of the procedures and some known problems associated with this program shortly. Please also be aware that additional Safety and Health guidelines may apply to workers working with lead per OSHA while certain other government programs run via HUD, DOE, USDA, etc… may require requirements that are more stringent.
What is Lead and why should I care?
Lead is a natural material that is listed on the element chart. Its symbol is Pb with an atomic number of 82 and is still commonly used today. Ok, it is a natural material and still used so it is no big deal right? Well unfortunately, Lead happens to be a neurotoxin and can cause many disorders especially in young children. The main ways of getting Lead poisoning is via ingestion (children) and inhalation (adults).
The EPA, the program & deadlines:
Currently, before anyone starts renovating a residential building built before 1978, the contractor or property owner is required to have the owners and any tenants sign a pre-renovation disclosure form, which indicates that the tenant received the Renovate Right pamphlet.   Effective Earth Day 2010 (April 22nd, 2010) any contractor, or owner of a rental property (wishing to do work on the rentals) built before 1978 must have attended and became a Certified Renovator and utilize the EPA’s guidelines for houses containing lead.  This applies to any repairs that are larger than 6 square feet inside the house, 20 square feet outside or replacing a window.
  • Certified Renovators (CR) – is an individual certificate given to those that have successfully completed a one-day EPA approved course that started becoming available around September 2009. (Currently training has not been performed in this state but that should be changing around January. I received my Certification while attending the Remodeling & Deck Expo in Indianapolis)
Effective April 22, 2010 – all construction firms wishing to work (or are currently working on) on pre-1978 houses or appropriate structures MUST BE a Certified Firm and MUST USE Certified Renovators.
  • Certified Firms – this is a form required by the EPA certifying that you fully understand the regulations and agree to use Certified Renovators as required. As a quick side note – the EPA has 90 days to approve your firm
Home Owners:
As a homeowner, you are not required to abide by the EPA’s policies for the removal and containment of Lead. Now even though you may not have to abide by the requirements, you are always responsible for the safety and well-being of your family. You may also be liable to any future homeowners should you sell your property.
Rental Property Owners:
Besides handing out the appropriate Lead brochure to your tenants like normal, you also have to become a Certified Renovator, follow the procedures, hand out the brochures and get signatures before work commences.
While you do not have to have anyone on your staff become a Certified Renovator, you are required to be a Certified Firm and use Certified Renovators as required. All firms needing to become certified should remember that the EPA has calculated that it may take them up to 90-days from receipt of the form to approve it. That means that the form & applicable fee should be sitting at the EPA no later than January 22nd.
More Resources
EPA’s LEAD Home Page HUD’s LEAD Home Page OSHA’s LEAD Information HRC Article: LEAD Notice Requirement HRC Article: The Process of Remodeling a pre 1978 house

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