Any professional renovating, restoring or otherwise working on homes built before 1978 will soon be required to have Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification if their work disturbs lead-based paint.
The EPA's proposed "Requirements To Protect Children During Renovation, Repair and Painting Activities that Disturb Lead-Based Paint" impacts not only general contractors, but any paid professional including general and renovation contractors, lead-sampling technicians, maintenance workers in multi-family housing, painters and other specialty trades people.
The new lead-based paint amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), requiring EPA-certified workers, would be applied to homes in two phases.
First, the focus will be on rental and owner-occupied housing built before 1978 where a child has an elevated blood lead level, in all rental housing built before 1960 and in all owner-occupied housing built before 1960 where children under age six reside.
The second phase would apply to renovations in rental housing built between 1960 and 1978 and to owner-occupied housing built after 1960 and before 1978 where children under six reside.
Comments on the proposed rule, identified by Docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2005-0049, must be submitted by April 10, 2006 through the Regulations.gov website.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission banned lead-based paint for residential use in 1978, but more than 38 million U.S. homes still contain some lead-based paint, federal health officials say. Two-thirds of all homes built before 1960 contain lead-based paint. Renovation activities that disturb lead-based paint can create lead hazards.
Children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from neurological damage, learning and behavioral disorders, stunted growth, hearing problems and headaches. Adults can suffer from pregnancy difficulties, high blood pressure, digestive problems, neurological disorders, memory and concentration problems and muscle and joint pain, health officials say.
The new proposal is the latest component in federal efforts to eliminate childhood lead poisoning as a major health concern by 2010, according to the EPA.
Since 1978, the federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Program has required landlords and homes sellers or their agents to disclose known information on lead-based paint and related hazards in mandated disclosure forms that come with information packets.
Under the newly proposed certification rule, renovators achieve EPA-certification by completing an EPA-accredited renovator training course or by being a certified lead-based paint abatement supervisor or worker who gets on-the-job training.
Certified renovators will perform or direct uncertified workers performing regulated renovation activities; provide training to uncertified workers on lead safe work practices; they must be at the work site during key stages of a renovation, and at other times they must be available on-site or by telephone and may use approved test kits to determine whether lead-based paint is present in affected areas.
Sampling technicians likewise must complete an accredited course or work as a certified lead-based paint inspector or risk assessor. The proposed rule does not require dust sampling, but it defines a certified dust sampling technician's role as someone who collects dust samples, sends the collected samples to an EPA-certified laboratory, and compares the results to established clearance levels.
All certified professionals would have to apply for recertification every three years.
Along with EPA certification, the proposal includes mandated work practice standards for targeted properties.
Work performed only by certified firms using certified renovators will have to include posting signs defining work areas warning occupants and others not involved in the work to remain outside the work area; isolating work areas so no visible dust or debris leaves the work area during the work; contained waste removal; and, upon completion, a cleanliness verification by a certified renovator, among other requirements.
The new proposal does not apply to owner-occupied housing where children under six do not reside; minor repair and maintenance activities that disrupt two square feet or less of painted surface per component; or renovations where acceptable methods have been used to determine that the areas affected by the renovation are free of lead-based paint, the proposed rule says.