It is now a federal law to be certified for lead paint removal.

On April 22, an EPA law called the “Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule” went into effect. Any contractor (including drywallers and plasterers) who disturbs just six square feet of lead paint in a room, or 20 square feet outside while working in a pre-1978 residence, school or daycare center must now be Lead-Safe Certified. If you’re not, it will result in lawsuits and stiff penalties. The penalties include a $37,500 fine per each violation and/or up to five years in prison with a felony conviction. You can also put the health of yourself, your workers and your customers at risk.

The rule has more restrictions if you are working on HUD or federally assisted properties such as Section 8. Any contractor who disturbs only two square feet of lead paint in a room, 20 square feet outside, or 10 percent of a component surface while working in a pre-1978 residence must have everyone on the jobsite RRP certified.

This rule not only applies to the special trades and construction industry it also applies to; apartment owners, condominium dwellings, property management firms, maintenance staff of daycares and schools, and realtors. The rule however does not apply to zero bedroom dwellings such as; studio apartments, hotels, hospitals, dorms, elderly and disability complexes.

The EPA is going to be “more forceful” about the penalties as the year progresses. There have already been cases where the EPA has fined companies for not complying with the new rules.

Statements that have been heard from contractors in the industry range from “I won’t get caught” or “I will just go bankrupt if I do get caught.” These are civil penalties and felony convictions that “bankruptcy” or “closing a business” will not protect you from.

What Changes Happen In Your Work?

Questions have been asked if this EPA rule applies to all jobs. The answer is no. The job has to meet certain criteria. For instance, first it must be a pre-1978 residence, school, or child care facility. Next, the job has to be evaluated to see if the client receives federal assistance or is a HUD property to determine which square foot rule applies. If the job site is pre-1978 and you are disturbing over the amount of square feet allowed by the rule in a room, then there are changes as to the next steps that can be done.

The contractor must be Lead Safe Certified to continue. This means the contractor must have taken and successfully completed the EPA’s eight hour course called Lead Safety for Renovation, Repair and Painting from an EPA accredited training provider. The course is six hours with two hours of hands-on demonstration and training. Within the course, the contractor is taught how to educate the client on what they will be doing or not doing, how to test to see if lead may be present that would affect the jobsite, how to control the dust, tools required/prohibited, maintaining records of the job, and clearing the job site for reoccupancy.

Is there an increase of hard cost to each job if the rule applies? The answer is yes. However, it is not that much of an increase. On average the costs may range between $50 to $200 per job depending on the size of the job site.

Specific State Requirements

The EPA has the authority to authorize states, tribes and territories to administer their own RRP program that would operate in lieu of the EPA regulations. When a state, tribe or territory becomes authorized, contractors and training providers working in these areas and consumers living there should contact the appropriate state, tribal or territorial program office. Currently the following states have been authorized by EPA: Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina, Mississippi, Kansas, Rhode Island, Utah, Oregon and Massachusetts.

Lead Test Kits

Under the RRP rule, a contractor will use an EPA approved lead test kit to determine if lead-based paint may exist before the renovation, repair or painting begins. The EPA only recognizes three lead test kits: LeadCheck, the State of Massachusetts kit, and D-Lead.

LeadCheck: The EPA recognizes that when used by a certified renovator, the LeadCheck lead test kit can reliably determine that regulated lead-based paint is not present on wood or ferrous metal (alloys that contain iron). Certified renovators seeking to use the LeadCheck kit for purposes of meeting requirements in the RRP Rule can purchase the kits from either LeadCheck directly or from certain retail outlets. LeadCheck is manufactured by Hybrivet Systems Inc.

State of Massachusetts: The EPA recognizes that when used by trained professionals, the State of Massachusetts lead test kit can reliably determine that regulated lead-based paint is not present on wood, drywall and plaster; it is not recognized for use on ferrous metal (alloys that contain iron).

D-Lead: Based on the results of the Environmental Technology Verification study of vendor-submitted lead test kits, the EPA recognizes that when used by a certified renovator the D-Lead Paint Test Kit manufactured by ESCA Tech Inc., can reliably determine that regulated lead-based paint is not present on wood, ferrous metal (alloys that contain iron), drywall and plaster surfaces. Certified renovators seeking to use the D-Lead Paint Test Kit for purposes of meeting requirements in the RRP Rule can purchase it from certain distributors and retail outlets.

Facts You Should Know About Lead Based Paint:

A small amount of dust from renovations, repairs or painting can contaminate an entire home. One gram of dust, the weight of a paper clip, can contaminate a 125 square foot area.

Lead-based paint was used for color and durability. Sometimes it can be identified not only by the standard colors but by its deteriorating method of “peeling” or “cracking.”

If inhaled or swallowed the dust can cause irreversible damage to children and adults.

Any renovation or repair in any pre-1978 house or child-occupied facility must now be done by an EPA Certified Renovator.

Failure to obtain certification of “lead-safe” practices in target housing can lead to civil penalties of up to $37,500 per violation and up to five years in prison.