What You Need To Know About Lead-Safe Renovations

If your home was constructed after 1978, your home “should” be free of lead, a heavy metal poison, but “should” is the operative word here. Have your home tested anyway!

Potential exposure to lead, especially to children and infants, is simply too dangerous to ignore. If you were born before 1968, as are a large percentage of Americans living today, chewing the paint off window sills and door jams was considered lunch. Paint was almost a food group.

How do you know if you were “exposed” to lead and in fact have lead poisoning? In the gross analysis, lead poisoning lessens intelligence, stunt growth, and impairs hearing, so without an actual blood test for lead poisoning, you’re probably not going to know.

From a parent’s standpoint, do you want to roll the dice with your children’s health at stake?

From a homeowner’s standpoint, lead test kits are readily available and relatively inexpensive, from about $12 to hundreds of dollars.

The nuts and bolts of the issue begins when Congress passed the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, also known as Title X, to protect families from exposure to lead from paint, dust, and soil. Because all of us aren’t as truthful as our mothers might like, Section 1018 of this law directed HUD and EPA to require the disclosure of known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before the sale or lease of most housing built before 1978. Section 1018 is the reason to have your home, regardless of the year it was built, tested for lead contamination.

Do you know anyone who would readily and openly say their home has lead contamination when all they have to say is something to the effect, “Not To My Knowledge,” or something similar.

You are reading this because you are contemplating a remodel or renovation of your home and that can be daunting. The last thing you want to worry about is the possible health risk of some common tasks. Sanding, demolition and siding and window replacement will certainly disturb lead-based paint if its present creating a risk of lead poisoning. Because of the risk, the EPA  developed the “Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program.” The legislation requires that workers, including contractors, painters and maintenance personnel, be trained to use lead-safe work practices, and remodeling firms must be EPA-certified.

We have taken the initiative and our employees and subcontracts are trained and we are certified. Because many remodeling practices and processes may involve family health issues, we feel it’s important for you to know what our lead-safe practices are before delving into some projects.

First, what does the legislation entail?

  • Applies to all remodeling/renovation projects on homes, childcare facilities and schools built before 1978
  • Related to on-site work practices
  • Contractors and workers must take an eight-hour training course to become certified on lead-safe practices
  • It is the contractor’s responsibility to confirm all dates and pertinent information.

If you’re discussing a remodel or renovation with a contractor other than us ask to see their government-issued certificate from the EPA showing that their firm is certified in lead-safe renovation practices. If they do not provide this documentation, find another contractor. And be aware this legislation may increase the cost of some projects, so be careful not to succumb to an enticingly lower bid from a non-certified contractor.

Remember, better safe than sorry. There’s more at risk than an increase in the cost. For more information on the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program, we encourage you to visit www.epa.gov/lead.

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