Attention: Was your home built before 1978?
If yes, the EPA has come out with new regulations that affect you.
The EPA has come out with new regulations for lead based paint that took effect in April of 2010. The regulations apply to anyone who hires or is paid to renovate, repair or disturb lead based paint in a residential property or child occupied facility. This specifically includes property managers, painters, electricians, drywallers, and plumbers. Homeowners working on their own homes are exempted from the regulations, but anyone they hire is included. An association board would be included as well. The regulations require that all renovations that involve lead need to be performed by an EPA Certified Firm using Certified Renovators or employees who are trained and supervised by the Certified Renovator.
Lead was used as a paint additive for hundreds of years even though it is toxic to humans. In the 1960’s and 1970 lead was mostly phased out and finally banned in 1978 from being used in residential homes. Currently about 35% of homes have lead in them. Even fewer homes have lead in areas that are likely to be disturbed. The best estimates are that less than 5% of townhomes and 10% of condos have lead, but at least 40% of rental housing contains lead based paint. The condos that do have lead were predominantly condos that used to be apartment buildings and underwent a conversion.
If lead is present in a home, it typically does not have to be removed unless it is being disturbed. If you have lead based paint on your walls and woodwork, but it is sealed with more recent coats of paint from the 1980’s and 1990’s, you probably do not have to worry about it. On the other hand, if the paint is peeling, cracking, flaking, etc, it can be health hazard and needs to be addressed. One of the primary sources of lead poisoning is caused by windows which were painted with lead based paint when they were constructed. When they slide up and down, the sides of the windows rub against each other and create dust. This dust can contain high concentrations of lead and can be invisible. This dust gets on the children’s hands and is ingested. It can also be inhaled. Lead is harmful to adults but is particularly dangerous to children.
Lead poisoning and the new regulations are very important to property managers and home owners associations (HOA’s). They are responsible for managing the property and protecting the health of the occupants. The new EPA regulations explicitly include property managers and by implication would include self managed HOA’s that hire a contractor. They have liability exposure if they do not follow the new regulations with fines up to $32,000 per day for violations. If a resident were to have high lead levels in their blood, and a renovation had taken place that involved disturbing lead, the HOA, property manager and contractor could be found liable for very large damages. By following the new regulations, the liability is greatly reduced and the responsibility and exposure is taken on primarily by the EPA Certified Contractor.
The new regulations will increase the cost of renovations that disturb lead, but they will also increase the safety for the occupants and renovators. Even if a home is pre-1978, there is still a strong chance that renovations can be done with only a small increase in cost.
The first step in any renovation now must be to determine the age of the structure. If it is post 1978, lead is not a concern. If it is pre-1978, the next question is whether lead will be disturbed in the process. This likely will involve testing the surfaces that will be affected. All testing must be done by an EPA certified renovator. So in order to even do the project, a certified renovator is required. The certified renovator is able to ascertain if there is lead, and if it will be disturbed, and what precautions need to be taken. We expect that a majority of the projects on pre-1978 homes will NOT require additional work beyond testing.
If the project does contain lead, lead safe practices need to be followed. The new regulations specify that the work must be done by a Certified Renovator or workers trained and supervised by a Certified Renovator. The regulations require specific notification requirements to residents, dust control, warning signs, specific clean up requirements and testing. In addition many current practices are now prohibited such as sanding, grinding, planing, needle gunning, blasting and other activities that create large amounts of dust. After completion the Certified Renovator must prepare and deliver the test results to the owners and then maintain records for 3 years. The new regulations can be found at www.epa.gov/lead
If your association is pre-1978, only use contractors who are EPA Certified. If your association has a Preferred Contractor List, make it mandatory that they all become EPA Certified. As a manager or board, you do not want to recommend a contractor who is not certified. Recommend that all homeowners only hire Certified Firms for work in their own units.
How do you know when to worry about lead? My recommendation is that you screen your properties carefully. Do not perform any construction, renovation, rehabbing, repairs, etc. on any property that is pre-1978 unless you have a certified firm do them. The fines can be as high as $32,000 per day and the health concerns are even more important.
CAI Past President, Member of Vision Awards Committee and Membership Committee.
BBB, MMHA, BATC, IREM and EPA Certified Renovator