In April of 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovating, Repairing or Painting Rule (RRP) went into effect. The RRP Rule comes into play when contractors do work which disturbs more than six square feet per room or 20 square feet of exterior surfaces in homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978. If lead is present, the contractor must be certified, follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination, and follow notification requirements.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer working on your own home, one that you don’t plan to flip or rent, you are not required to follow these practices. However, if you hire a contractor to do any work that falls under these guidelines–for example, a painter whose work disturbs more than six square feet of surface–the painting contractor must be certified and follow lead-safe practices. These include containing the dust during the project, using practices that minimize the creation of dust, and doing a careful clean-up after you are through.
Even if you are doing all the work on your home yourself, you should be familiar with these work practices to protect you and your family. Why should you be concerned? Lead-based paint was used in more than 38 million homes in America before it was banned for residential use in 1978. Lead can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems and can also be harmful to adults and pregnant women.
Lead dust, which is often invisible, is the most common way people are exposed to lead during a renovation in their home; it gets into the body when it is inhaled or swallowed. The older a home is, the more likely it is to have lead-based paint. Common renovation practices like demolition, sanding and cutting can create hazardous lead dust and chips.
So, depending on how your project will be handled, either by a professional or if you plan to do it yourself, you should take the necessary steps. While a do-it-yourselfer working in their own home is not required to follow the RRP rule, they should still purchase an approved EPA lead-test kit online or from hardware or paint stores and follow the instructions to perform the test themselves. Before your contractor starts your project, he (you) should hire a certified professional such as a certified risk assessor or a Certified RRP professional to conduct an inspection and tell you which areas of your home may need lead-safe practices. The risk assessor can also tell you what actions you need to take to address any potential hazards.
For assistance in finding a risk assessor or finding other information, you can call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-lead (5323). You can also Google RRP to get more information or visit the EPA lead website.