New Lead Paint Rule Affects Certain Contractors

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule affects contractors involved in renovating older homes and other buildings described as child-occupied facilities. The rule, issued April 22, 2008, and effective on April 22, 2010, is intended to reduce incidents of lead poisoning among children known to be caused by the presence of stirred up lead dust and chips in lead-based paint in older buildings undergoing renovation.

The new rule affects paid painters, repairmen, and renovators who work in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities and who disturb lead-based paint, including:

  • Renovation contractors
  • Maintenance workers in multifamily housing
  • Painters and members of other specialty trades

The EPA rule defines “child-occupied facilities” as residential, public, or commercial buildings where children under age six are present on a regular basis. The rule also encompasses common areas that are routinely used by children under age six, such as restrooms and cafeterias. Also included under the rule are the exterior sides of the buildings immediately adjacent to the child-occupied facility or the common areas routinely used by children under age six.

Certification for Contractors

The rule mandates that firms be certified by the EPA and that they use renovators certified in the use of lead-safe work practices. Individual contractors can become certified renovators by taking an eight-hour training course from an EPA-approved training provider. Firms have until October 1, 2010, to get certified. The EPA will not take enforcement action against individual renovation workers if they have applied to enroll or are enrolled in a certified renovator class by no later than September 30, 2010. Renovators must complete the training by December 31, 2010.

After certification, contractors that perform renovation, repairs, and painting jobs in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities must, before beginning work, provide owners, tenants, and child-care facilities with a copy of the EPA’s lead hazard information pamphlet, Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools. Contractors must also document compliance with this requirement.

In addition, contractors must:

  • Provide clients with a copy of their EPA- or state-issued lead training certificate
  • Explain to clients which lead-safe methods they intend to use
  • Ask clients to share results of any previously conducted lead tests
  • Provide clients with references from at least three recent jobs involving pre-1978 homes
  • Keep records that show workers have been trained in lead-safe work practices. Contractors may download and use the sample recordkeeping checklist that the EPA has developed to help them comply with the recordkeeping requirements

Exemptions to the Rule

The rule exempts work on pre-1978 housing for the elderly or persons with disabilities (unless one or more children under age six reside or are expected to reside in the dwelling). In addition, pre-1978 dwellings without any bedrooms are exempt.

Certain abatement, minor repair, and maintenance activities are exempted from the new rule. For example, the rule does not apply to minor maintenance or repairs where less than six square feet of lead paint is disturbed in a room or where less than 20 square feet of lead-based paint is disturbed on the exterior. However, this exemption does not apply to window replacement, demolition of painted surface areas, or the use of various techniques and tools to remove paint. In addition, an exemption will apply if one of the following methods is used to determine that the paint on the surface that will be disturbed is not lead-based paint:

  • A written determination by a certified lead inspector or risk assessor
  • Correct use of an EPA-recognized test kit by a certified renovator. The person contracting for the renovation must be given the test results within 30 days after the renovation is completed

Contractors should be aware that this new rule does not preempt more stringent requirements imposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and by individual communities and states.

“The rule mandates that firms be certified by the EPA and that they use renovators certified in the use of lead-safe work practices.”