How Will New Lead Regulations Impact Home Renovations?

Lead poisoning is a serious issue.  According to researchers, “Lead poisoning can lead to learning disabilities, behavioral problems and, at high levels, seizures, comas and death”.   Children under the age of six are at a higher risk due to their natural tendency to place things in their mouths.

This new regulation requires professional renovators and home owners alike be educated on the proper method for disturbing areas that may be contaminated with lead.  This is normally related to homes built prior to 1978 when lead was used in plumbing materials and paint.  Due to the durability of lead paint, there may deep layers on window sills, trim, and door casements.    If these areas are going to be sanded, prepped with a pressure washer, or removed, adequate precautions must be taken.   This includes but is not limited to proper dust control, particle containment and proper disposal of all materials.

If you are planning on painting or renovating your home and it was built prior to 1978, your contractor should be trained in lead removal and have one certified worker on the job to supervise the process.  The training for contractors is anywhere from $75-$250 and the estimated cost for the process requirements per job range from 5-10% additional for each job.  Your contractor should provide you with a pamphlet informing you of the health issues related to lead.

This new regulation, going into effect April 22nd, 2010, has many in an uproar.  Including my father who has been a painter for nearly 60 years and describes the hand mixing of lead and linseed oil with his bare hands to create the right color.  My father is 84 and shows no signs of lead poisoning.  He believes this issue will place additional cost on the contractor because of training and the fact that each job must be supervised by a certified worker.  Therefore, all of his job supervisors must be trained.  With the economy so poor he believes this will only hurt small contractors like himself.  For the first time, he is considering retirement. (So, I am thinking this regulation might be a good thing if for no other reason than this.)

This new regulation is not much different than the regulation regarding the removal and disposal of heating ducts and “popcorn” (acoustic) ceilings that may contain asbestos.  These materials must be handled carefully, and over the years proper safety precautions for workers have become routine.

The bottom line, the additional cost will be a big issue to some.  The potential for a safe home environment will be worth the money to many.

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