New Federal Law Effects all Contractors in the United States

Beginning April 22, 2010, the world of renovation, remodeling and repair is going to experience a major overhaul at the Federal level. It might even be safe to say these changes will affect virtually every contractor, craftsman, designer, business and homeowner in the United States that will either perform work that disturbs lead based paint and products containing lead currently in homes, childcare facilities and schools built before 1978. Or will have the work done for them. And there is a very likely possibility that these rules will be changed to include commercial spaces as well in the near future and possibly before the April 22nd deadline. Which for some at home entrepreneurs, homeowners or storefronts that are considering remodeling at some time this will be important information for you to factor in your remodeling financial planning.

It is estimated that in homes built before 1940, 87% of the US homes contain lead. 69% in homes built between 1940-1960 and 24% in homes built between 1960-1978 when lead in paint was banned for manufacture in residential applications (EPA Pamphlet # 740-F-08-002). However it didn’t stop the sale of lead paint that had been warehoused and sold after 1978 and apparently it is still available in some limited commercial applications like painting bridges and major infrastructure like that.

The problem is lead dust that comes from deteriorating lead based paints and lead contaminated soils that are introduced into the house by children and or adults working and or playing in a contaminated areas and unsuspectingly introducing it into the house and their lives or from renovation which can suspend the dust in the air and on surfaces to be breathed in or ingested.

How is that a problem you might ask? Well lead is particularly dangerous to children under the age of six. It can affect children’s developing brains and nervous systems causing reduced IQ, behavior problems, speech and learning disabilities. Even children who appear healthy can have dangerous levels of lead in their bodies. Adults manifest dangerous levels of high blood pressure and hypertension and can have sexual/fertility disorders, muscle or joint pain, digestive problems, memory and concentration problems. Lead is passed from the mother to the fetus and can cause miscarriages, premature births, brain damage and low birth weight. Lead exposure causes permanent damage and you can’t see it, can’t sweep it up and it travels. It’s nasty stuff.

The EPA has determined that the amount of lead exposure that is an acceptable level of exposure is measured in micrograms or 1 millionth of a gram detected in an area of one square foot or 12”x12”. By comparison if you will, a packet of sugar is roughly about 1 gram of sugar. Now believe it or not, somebody in some great lab somewhere with too much time on their hands actually counted how many grains of sugar average in a gram or a sugar packet and it’s roughly 280,000 grains of sugar in a packet. Now picture the size of a grain of sugar and it’s about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Now imagine that “.” reduced by 1 millionth and you have a very tiny amount of a toxin that not much more than that can harm you, your family and or your customers. One gram of lead-based paint can contaminate a large area. I think you can imagine what kind of dust is created when you renovate a bathroom or home office or a kitchen for example.

Now you know these facts:. Dust is the problem. Lead poisoning is hard to detect and its effects can be permanent and kids are most at risk for lead poisoning. But it’s preventable and that is the intent of the new 2010 RRP Rule (Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule).

Published April 22, 2008, under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act(section 402© of TSCA) that effective April 22, 2010 all contractors in the U.S. providing compensated renovation services and will affect an area larger than 6 square feet of interior surface, or 20 square feet of exterior surface must have their firms certified by the EPA for RRP. By comparison, your typical interior bathroom door is about 16 square feet. In addition each firm must have at least one certified renovator on staff available on all work sites that has been trained and certified in dust sampling, containment and disposal of lead dust and material. Lead safe work practices and documentation must be in compliance and the certified renovators must educate owners and occupants and non-certified onsite personnel of hazards and containment.

How will this be enforced you ask? EPA has the authority to seek civil fines of $32,500.00 per offense plus and an additional criminal fine of $32,500 plus jail time for knowing and willful violations of the RRP requirements. As a small contractor like myself that’s a very big incentive to be in compliance. And as a homeowner/business owner you would want to make sure that any contractor you enter into a renovation agreement with is licensed, bonded and insured AND in compliance and is following the proper RRP procedures to reduce your risk and exposure.

If you’re a contractor in Washington State there are currently two certified training facilities according to the EPA website. One in Seattle and one in Bellingham. There are thousands of registered contractors in Washington State. You do the math but there will be a rush to get certified and so you will want to get in line now to get the training and certification. Go to www.epa.gov/lead for more info.

I took the individual certification yesterday and it costs $250.00 for the individual training and $300.00 to certify my company with the EPA. Now my firm as Bradley J. Rodgers LLC, A Carpenter in Private Practice is an EPA Certified Renovator.

Don’t wait until the last minute.

  • "Creativity is a natural extension of our enthusiasm.”

    ~ Earl Nightingale

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