US sets new rules for lead-based paint
Published Apr. 1, 2008
To further protect children from exposure to lead-based paint, EPA is issuing new rules for contractors who renovate or repair housing, child-care facilities or schools built before 1978. Under the new rules, workers must follow lead-safe work practice standards to reduce potential exposure to dangerous levels of lead during renovation and repair activities. ‘While there has been a dramatic decrease over the last two decades in the number of children affected by lead-poisoning, EPA is continuing its efforts to take on this preventable disease,’ said James Gulliford, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. ‘Today’s new rules will require contractors to be trained and to follow simple but effective lead-safe work practices to protect children from dangerous levels of lead.’
The ‘Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Program’ rule, which will take effect in April 2010, prohibits work practices creating lead hazards. Requirements under the rule include implementing lead-safe work practices and certification and training for paid contractors and maintenance professionals working in pre-1978 housing, child-care facilities and schools. To foster adoption of the new measures, EPA will also conduct an extensive education and outreach campaign to promote awareness of these new requirements.
The rule covers all rental housing and non-rental homes where children under six and pregnant mothers reside. The new requirements apply to renovation, repair or painting activities where more than six square feet of lead-based paint is disturbed in a room or where 20 square feet of lead-based paint is disturbed on the exterior. The affected contractors include builders, painters, plumbers and electricians. Trained contractors must post warning signs, restrict occupants from work areas, contain work areas to prevent dust and debris from spreading, conduct a thorough cleanup, and verify that cleanup was effective.
Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in paint and was banned for residential use in 1978. Exposure to lead can result in health concerns for both children and adults. Children under six years of age are most at risk because their developing nervous systems are especially vulnerable to lead’s effects and because they are more likely to ingest lead due to their more frequent hand-to-mouth behavior. Almost 38 million homes in the United States contain some lead-based paint, and today’s new requirements are key components of a comprehensive effort to eliminate childhood lead poisoning.