Today is Earth Day, April 22, and serious new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency take effect that impact renovation on older homes that have or might have lead paint.  Lead based paint was used extensively in homes up through the first half of the 20th century but was banned in residences in 1978 due to serious health problems.

Any contractor who works on a home built before 1978 must give the homeowners a booklet written by the EPA

EPA Pamphlet

that warns about the dangers of lead paint and outlines appropriate precautions.  The dangers here are real and serious, especially to children under six years old. The problems include: brain damage, learning disabilities, behavior problems, and lung damage.  Lead paint dust can affect adults as well;  it is a significant cause of miscarriages, premature births, nerve disorders, etc.  So any contractor who disturbs a small area in your home that may have lead paint must take significant precautions to control dust and debris.  The standard here is stringent:  disturbing painted surfaces more than six square feet inside or twenty square feet outside or replacing any window all fall under the new rules.  In addition, any contractor doing such work must be properly trained and his company must be certified by the EPA.

What should you do, then, as a homeowner and parent of a young child?

  1. Get and read the EPA pamphlet, “Renovate Right.”
  2. Although the EPA rules do not apply to homeowners working on their own homes, do not attempt such renovations yourself.
  3. Hire only “RRP certified” contractors.  Look for two kinds of proof:

    Training Certificate (click to enlarge)

  • A certificate from a training organization accredited by the EPA that shows the contractor’s picture and validates he or she has taken and passed the “Certified Renovator Initial” course;
  • A signed certificate from the EPA certifying that the company has fulfilled the requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act Section 402 and is certified to conduct lead-based renovation.

    EPA Certificate (click to enlarge)

The EPA allows sates to administer and enforce the lead paint RRP program directly.  States that do so — and issue their own contractor certifications — include: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina, and Kansas.  You will find a full list here.

Helpful, related links are:

  1. The EPA lead paint site
  2. Comments on the cost impact on renovation projects

We at Archadeck of Suburban Boston offer professional design and build services for clients west and north of Boston.  Over the past 27 years we have designed and built over 1,000 projects.  We have enhanced the depth of our expertise by limiting our work to decks, porches, and sunrooms.  To view some of these projects, visit our website. To learn how we treat our clients, check on us at  Angie’s List or read a recent article about us in Remodeling Magazine.For a free design consultation and a relaxed and rewarding design and construction experience, contact us via e-mail, or by phone, 781-273-3500.

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