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New renovation rule in effect

by Brian Walker
| April 25, 2010 9:00 PM

New Environmental Protection Agency rules for the renovation, repair or painting of homes, schools and day cares built before 1978 went into effect on Thursday.

"The rules are designed to protect children and pregnant women from dust that might contain lead due to older paint being disturbed during the renovation," said Tom Shanahan, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spokesman.

Under the rule, which went into effect after its two-year phase-in, firms performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb paint in homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978 must be certified by EPA and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

Each firm must have its representative overseeing the project trained by an EPA-accredited training provider in lead safe work practices. "You must be lead-safe certified if you disturb over 6 square feet inside or 20 square feet outside," said Barbara Ross of the EPA.

To apply, companies should submit to EPA a completed "Application for Firms" form, signed by an authorized agent of the firm. The form is available at www.epa.gov/getleadsafe or by calling (800) 424-5323.

Fines can be as much as $37,500. It costs $300 for companies to be certified.

The firm must provide the occupants and owners with the EPA's pamphlet, Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools, which is available on EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting Web site at www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm#content.

Properties receiving housing assistance from HUD (or a state or local agency that uses HUD funds), must also follow the slightly more stringent requirements of HUD's Lead-safe Housing Rule in order to ensure the appropriate level of protection according to the federal investment of taxpayer dollars.

According to the EPA, lead paint poisoning affects more than one million children. Dust from renovation, repairs and painting can contaminate an entire home, and if swallowed or breathed in, can cause irreversible damage to children and adults. Children under the age of 6 are at most risk for lead poisoning.

The rule covers home improvement contractors, maintenance workers, painters and other specialty trades like HVAC specialists, electricians and plumbers. All firms, regardless of number of employees, must be certified.

The rule does not apply to:

• owner-occupied housing where children under the age of 6 and/or a pregnant woman do not reside;

• minor repair and maintenance activities that disturb 6 square feet or less of painted surface per room, or 20 square feet or less of exterior painted surfaces; and

• renovations where an EPA-approved testing method confirms that the paint to be disturbed is not lead-based paint.

Even though the rule does not apply to homeowners performing renovation, repair or painting work on their own home, they are encouraged to read a copy of EPA's Renovate Right pamphlet.

Other information on lead safety is available at www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/, www.hud.gov/healthyhomes, or by calling the EPA-HUD National Lead Information Clearinghouse at (800) 424-LEAD (5323).

Hearing- or speech-challenged individuals may access this number through TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To find a list of EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting certified firms in Idaho, visit EPA's website at http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_firm.htm or call the NLIC.

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