The EPA lead law. Is your contractor using lead safe practices?

Home Inspector with Certified Structure Inspector IOS #1730, EA #30

As many are aware the EPA and HUD both now require workers that disturb surfaces with lead based paint to be trained and follow the new lead safe work practices. This came about due to the health risks of lead dust primarily to children under 6 and pregnant women. Lead also caused harm to adults but children absorb lead much faster. An adult absorbs about 10% in ingested lead where children under 6 absorb 50% of the lead ingested. At the minimal level of of lead allowed to be called lead based paint, it takes only a sweetener packet amount of lead paint dust to poison a child.

-Who has to follow these rules? Anyone working on a home or residential unit built before 12/31/77 with one or more bedrooms. Any child occupied facility. The requirements apply to renovation, repair or painting activities. The rule generally does not apply to minor maintenance or repair activities where less than six square feet of lead-based paint is disturbed in a room or where less then 20 square feet of lead-based paint is disturbed on the exterior, but this does not include window replacement, demolition, or prohibited practices.

-How do I know if the house has lead based paint? The only way to know is test for it. If no testing is done and it's a pre 78 home the Renovation, Repair and Painting rules must be followed.  Approximately 34 million homes have lead based paint, 9in10 homes built before 1940, 7in10 built 40-59, and IN  built 60-78.

-How do I know if my contractor is following the rules? If you have to ask this question than most likely they are not. There are specific procedures that are to be followed. Giving the Renovate Right Pamphlet  is one of the requirements. It must be given to home owners and occupants no more than 60 days before and no later than 7 days before.  Contractors are also to cover the areas with plastic and post signs. The occupants can not be in the unit while work is being done.

-How will I know if my contractor is trained?  The workers are required to have copies of their training and certification on site while the work is being done.

-How do I know if the area is free of lead once the work is done? One of the requirements is that a strict cleaning procedure has to be done. Once this is done a visual inspection for dust is done. If some is found they must re-clean. If none is found then they can move on to the Cleaning Verification. This in where the window sills, un-carpeted floors, and counters are wiped with special wet cloths to check for the presence of lead. IF they don't come back clear they must re-clean and retest the area. Exterior cleaning is less technical and only requires a visual inspection. At the end of the project a report must be given that includes all the EPA required info.

-Can a repair contractor do abatement?  No a Renovators certification and an Abatement certification are not the same.

-Can I reuse my old trim, etc.? Yes you can but it must be stripped of all lead based paint if the item was removed during the project.

Most of these are brief points to a more complicated rule. Some states have added their own requirements. HUD also has some specific rules that apply to federally funded properties. The certified firm doing the work should be able to provide every detail of the project before hand. If they can't don't use them. More info can be found at

Many Home Inspector like myself are taking the EPA Renovators Certification and can be contacted to Inspect your project and provide testing. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Comments (3)

Vick The Broker Olympus Executive Realty
Olympus Executive Realty INC. - Orlando, FL
Home Of The Top Producers

I see your coming right along on ActiveRain, once you get the hang of a few blogs they all come naturally.

Well, best of luck to your new future with the RAIN, 

Apr 04, 2011 05:03 PM
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

Great post about lead.  I didn't know some of this stuff so now I am glad I met you :)

Apr 15, 2011 12:00 PM
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

Thanks Renee. Glad itwas informative for you.

Apr 18, 2011 03:49 PM