Contractors Beware EPA Lead Paint Renovation Rule Now in Effect

05/27/2010 / Rob A. Stefonowicz

Contractors in Minnesota and throughout the United States that perform repairs or renovations that disturb lead-based paint (such as sanding, cutting and demolishing) in homes, schools and child-care facilities constructed before 1978 are now subject to new EPA regulations mandating certain “lead-safe practices.” These practices are intended to minimize exposure to lead-containing dust and debris during such projects. Contractors that fail to comply with EPA regulations can face significant monetary fines.

The EPA’s Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Program took effect on April 22, 2010. The regulations now require that contractors be certified by the EPA prior to performing repair and renovation projects in pre-1978 residences and child-occupied facilities. Contractors are further required to employ specified containment and cleaning practices. The State of Minnesota, during the 2010 legislative session, adopted the RRP regulations and will require, as of February 1, 2011, that all residential building and roofing contractors provide proof of their EPA certification to municipalities when seeking permits for work on pre-1978 structures.

Contractors who are not yet familiar with the EPA regulations should visit the EPA lead renovation website for more details and a full listing of the regulations. Below are a few of the highlights:

1. Residential and Child-Occupied Facilities. The EPA regulations apply to residential property, including apartments, constructed before 1978, as well as “child-occupied facilities” such as daycare centers and schools regularly visited by children under the age of 6 years.

2. Training and Certification. All companies or other business entities performing renovation work of this nature (referred to as “Firms” in the EPA regulations) must submit an application to the EPA for certification and pay a fee. In addition, an employee of the firm must also become certified as a “Certified Renovator.” A certified renovator in turn may train other employees and is required to oversee the firm’s renovation and cleaning practices. Contractors are also to provide a lead renovation pamphlet to the occupants of the property and must document and maintain records of their work practice procedures.

3. Work Practice Procedures. The work area must be contained to prevent the spread of dust and debris. Plastic sheeting must be extended 6 feet in all directions from the work area. Warning sign must be posted at the entrance to the work area. In addition to other specified cleaning practices, a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) vacuum must be used during the cleanup process.

4. Exemptions/Opt-Out Waiver. “Minor repair work” of less than 6 square feet in the interior of a structure and 20 square feet on the exterior are exempt from the lead-safe practices. Removal and replacement of windows is not considered minor repair work. Until July 2010, the RRP includes a process by which a homeowner may agree to waive the lead-safe practices if there are no children under the age of 6 years residing in the property and no one residing in the property is pregnant. However, as of July 2010, this opt-out waiver will be revoked by the EPA. Accordingly, as of July, a property owner will not under any circumstances be able to opt out of the EPA regulations.