The Environmental Protection Agency began to realize the danger of lead poisoning from sources such as gasoline, plumbing pipes, and lead-based paint more than 2 decades ago. It phased out using this toxic paint in homes in 1978, although some states voluntarily banned it earlier.
The Environmental Protection Agency website states, Lead paint poisoning affects over one million children today. Adverse health effects include learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and speech delays.
The chances of absorbing lead from paint are highest during home renovations and repairs, when sawing, sanding, and otherwise disturbing the paint can cause it to become airborne. This is the primary reason why contractors are now required to be lead-safe certified and homeowners are responsible for verifying this when selecting a contractor.
The only exceptions where being certified is not required are in homes build after 1978, or if built prior to that, the work area must be less than 6 square feet indoors, or 20 square feet outdoors, within a 30-day period.
Replacing windows is not an exception. Why not? Even if the window frames are metal or vinyl, the adjoining surfaces are likely to contain lead and the replacement will likely disturb it.
The Environmental Protection Agency Certification Process
The new rule applies to all general contractors, painting companies, maintenance companies, handymen, etc. In most circumstances, every worker does not have to go through the entire process.
Only one worker has to take an 8-hour Lead Renovator course from a training provider that has been certified by the EPA to teach it.
Upon successful completion, the trainer will submit the paperwork to the government along with a $300 fee which is essentially yet another rubber stamp tax levied on private business.
The homeowner can expect a portion or all of the cost of this fee to be passed on to him. The contractor is now a certified firm and will have to repeat the process every 5 years.
The process is similar to an asbestos abatement project; containment is key. The certified staff member must be present on the home renovation site during containment setup as well as the final work area verification and cleanup.
So be aware that if this staff member is a supervisor rather than a worker, his hourly wages and commuting expenses will also be figured into the bid price.
The Downside of the New Home Renovation Regulation
Although training and safe work practices are certainly needed, the cost, additional paperwork, and fear of creeping government interference are likely to drive more small businesses to work under the table.
The mandate to provide healthcare insurance for employees under Obamacare is already doing that. Many small remodelers dont provide medical coverage benefits now because they simply cant afford it. They do this by shorting worker hours or working under the table.
Dont get me wrong; with a health issue that is known to be so toxic, government should insist that safety precautions are taken. But the contractors and homeowners should not be expected to bear the burden of yet another layer of government fees.
It would make more sense to eliminate some of the absurd pork projects that tax dollars are wasted on every day, and channel some of those funds to pay for these certifications. Since for almost all residential renovation projects there is no oversight of certification, whats the point?
This is just another case of a nanny-state body with no head attached. There are plenty of well-paid civil servants pushing paper, but no enforcement on the local level.
Another problem is that although the EPA does a good job about getting notice of lead paint regulations out to the contractor community, very little information has been provided to the general public.
If a homeowner doesnt know to ask for verification, small business is not likely to offer it as a selling point and the authorities will never know, since painting generally doesnt require a building permit.