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EPA’s new lead paint rule affects thousands of contractors



The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all contractors to be EPA certified and to follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination when working in homes and housing units, childcare facilities, and schools built before 1978. These new rules, which will become effective in April, 2010, were created in order to prevent dangerous lead paint exposure, which can affect children’s brains and nervous systems and cause high blood pressure in adults.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “Few subcontractors associated with home building and remodeling (including insulation and HVAC installers and others) are even aware of the Lead Renovation and Painting Rule that will govern remodeling activities in homes and child-occupied facilities built before 1978. Those who are aware of it may assume it targets only professional remodelers, but this is not the case. In fact, it applies to any contractor who “disturbs” at least six square feet of painted surface on the inside of a home or 20 square feet on the outside. That means that contractors who install windows, insulation, home entertainment equipment or similar items in the target housing must become certified to do the work.”

According to the EPA’s website, the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRP) includes pre-renovation education requirements as well as training, certification, and work practice requirements. The Pre-renovation education requirements are currently in effect and require lead pamphlets to be distributed before starting any renovation work in facilities built before 1978. Renovators and firms are required to be certified by completing a training course conducted by an EPA approved training firm. Employees must be trained in the use of lead-safe work practices and must follow these specific practices which minimize occupants’ exposure to lead hazards. Any activity that disturbs painted surfaces greater than 6 square feet per room inside or more than 20 square feet outside fall under this regulation. Activities include most repair, remodeling, and maintenance activities—including window replacement and building demolition. Specific examples of activities include electrical work, plumbing, painting, carpentry, and window replacement, among others. There are additional requirements for signage, recordkeeping, and record retention. The RRP Rule and specific requirements are posted on EPA’s website at www.epa.gov/lead. EPA has the right to inspect work sites, review records and reports and respond to complaints. Enforcement action against a company that fails to comply with the RRP Rule could result in fines ranging from $5,000 to as high as $32,500 per violation, per day.

The EPA estimates 200,000 contractors or more will require certification training. The Builders Association of Northern Nevada (The Builders) will provide EPA training beginning on March 15, 2009 at the TMCC/IGT Applied Technology Center from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to help local contractors meet the certification requirement. Contact The Builders at 775-329-4611 for more information, or visit www.thebuilders.com to register for an upcoming class. Space is limited.

About The Builders:

The Builders Association of Northern Nevada is the “Voice of the Building Industry” in the region. Chartered in 1956, The Builders is a non-profit entity affiliated with the National Association of Home Builders and is committed to providing education, information, representation and benefits to their membership. The Builders gives back to the community in the form of scholarships and through its charitable arm, the Builders Association Charity. As the residential construction industry, The Builders members significantly contribute to the success of the local economy. Information about the Builders Association of Northern Nevada is located on their website at www.thebuilders.com.

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