Effective April 22nd, 2010, all renovations performed by contractors on homes or buildings built before 1978 must be performed under the new guidelines set forth by the EPA. These guidelines include requiring the firm and the renovator to be certified in lead-safe work practices by the EPA under the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program. This program applies to residential houses, apartments, and child-occupied facilities such as schools and day care centers built before 1978.
All contractors are required to distribute a lead pamphlet before starting any renovation work. In general, any activity which disturbs paint in an area greater than 6 square feet indoors or 20 square feet on the exterior of a building is subject to this program, including remodeling, repairs/maintenance, electrical work, plumbing, painting, carpentry, and window replacement. Exceptions to this are housing built after 1978, housing for the elderly or disabled, studio apartments/dormitories, or housing declared lead-free by a certified inspector.
As part of this program, contractors must test for lead-based paint using an EPA acceptable test kit, post informational signs noting the extent of the renovations, contain work areas to prevent the spread of lead paint dust and debris, prohibit certain work practices such as open-flame burning and the use of power tools without HEPA exhaust control, and perform a thorough clean up followed by a verification procedure to minimize lead paint exposure.
How will this potentially affect you? When you hire a contractor to perform a renovation on your home, they will be required to test for lead based paint if it was built before 1978. If lead paint is discovered, you could be required to disclose this fact to any potential buyers when you go to sell (depending on which state you live in - in DC and Maryland, you WOULD be required to disclose this fact).