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RENOVATING AN OLDER HOME? U.S. EPA NEW LEAD PAINT LAW ADDS NEW WORK, TESTING STANDARDS!

NEW LAW, EFFECTIVE APRIL 22ND, REQUIRES CONTRACTOR CERTIFICATION, ADDITIONAL TESTING FOR HOMES LIKELY PAINTED WITH LEAD-BASED PRODUCTS!

Here in Chicago and in nearby Chicago Suburbs, hundreds, if not thousands, of single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses, and apartment buildings were built many years ago.  Those beautiful Chicago Bungalows, Victorians, and American Four-Squares may contain lead-based paint and plaster, quite legal when those homes were built, many more than a century ago.

Across the U.S., the sale, manufacture, and distribution of Lead-Based Paint was banned over 30 years ago, in 1978.  However, the 1970's-era ban did not eliminate the dangers of lead-based paint in older residences. 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as reported by Emily Udell in the Angie's List Magazine last month, there are 37.8 million homes and other facilities where children are regularly present which pre-date the lead paint ban.  Although painted-over lead-based paint poses a limited danger if not disturbed, renovating these older homes - some dating back to before 1900 - could pulverize old lead paint, send it airborne, and create a hazard for those who breathe in the dust.

Although anyone can be poisoned by ingesting enough lead or lead dust, the danger is especially acute for small children.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta GA estimates a quarter of a million children under the age of 6 suffer from lead poisoning.  The standard testing threshold - 10 micorgrams per deciliter of blood.  Those with elevated levels of lead in their bloodstreams can experience future behavioral issues, and perhaps developmental disabilities.

The new EPA Law, effective April 22nd, requires all home remodeling contractors be certified in safe working practices around lead paint and plaster, if their work will involve more than six square feet on the interior, or 20 square feet on the exterior of any home.  Older homes pose a far higher risk of disturbed lead paint turning into a fine, breathable dust - potentially hazardous.

According to the EPA, an estimated 212,000 firms and 236,000 people need lead certification in order to comply with the law.  However, as of the publishing of Udell's post, only 817 companies and 13,669 individual contractors have gotten the required certification.  Nationwide, the EPA has only slightly more than 130 certified lead-hazard trainers, although they contend their staffing level is adequate to train all involved.

The EPA fears that most contractors will not be aware of the upcoming new law, and will not take the special protection steps - including removing furniture from rooms undergoing renovation, posting warning signs, and putting up plastic sheeting to prevent airborne lead powder from traveling to other rooms in the house.  They are concerned that independent handymen, and other firms not complying with the new rules, will routinely underbid compliant companies, and unwitting homeowners will not know the difference. 

The new law also requires that certified contractors provide their homeowners with a new "Renovate Right" pamphlet before they start work.

Although the EPA feels that compliance with the new Lead Paint Laws will only add nominal costs to each renovation or remodeling project, some experienced contractors fear the new rules, which involve considerably strengthened record keeping, labor, and materials cost, as well as a more intensive clean up procedure after the job is done, could add hundreds of dollars to the cost of each project.

The new Lead Paint Law will include an "Opt Out" Provision for homeowners who live in the subject home, have no children under the age of six, and do not operate a day care center or other business frequented by young children.   At their option, these homeowners may waive the obligation of their contractor to use lead-safe practices.

As you may imagine, debate is strong on either side of the issue, as the date of the new law to begin approaches later this month.

DEAN MOSS & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO

Posted: Sunday, April 04, 2010 12:39 PM by Dean's Team

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