Homeowner Alert–The New Lead-Based Paint Rule and How It Affects You

Homeowner Alert–The New Lead-Based Paint Rule and How It Affects You

By Scott von Gonten, CGA, CGP, CR, CDST

Do you live in a home built before 1978? 

Do you want to do some remodeling to make your home more comfortable, energy-efficient, or “roomy?”  If so, consider the following:

  • Does your home need repainting? 
  • Do you need some “Weatherization” improvements?
  • Do you need new energy-efficient windows or doors installed? 
  • Does your siding or trim need to be replaced? 
  • Do you need a room addition? 
  • Do you need some electrical, plumbing, or heating/ventilation/air conditioning work done that would involve cutting holes in your walls or ceilings? 
  • Would any remodeling activity require the removal of baseboards or other moulding? 
  • Would a roofing project require the painted drip edge or fascia to be disturbed or removed?

If any of these conditions apply, there is a relatively new regulation that affects you.  It is called the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule, which became enforceable on April 22, 2010.  This Rule is targeted at reducing your, and your family’s, exposure to Lead-Based Paint Dust generated by traditional renovation work.  The Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) requires that any renovation of your home, which you pay for, must be conducted by a Certified Firm using Certified Renovators.  It applies to all general contractors and all sub-contractors.

Why is Lead Such a Hazard?

Lead is a very hazardous material that can cause great harm to humans, especially children.  Although lead-based paint was banned from residential use in 1978, approximately 38 million Pre-1978 homes contain this hazard.  When lead-based paint peels or is disturbed by you or others, through abrasion or during a renovation project, lead dust can be created.

Lead dust is toxic, when ingested or inhaled, and can cause children to develop learning disabilities and behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity, and can even reduce their IQ.  Even pregnant women, who ingest or inhale lead dust, can transfer lead to their babies in the womb, which can cause developmental issues.  Obviously, these lead-induced problems can negatively affect children for the rest of their lives. 

Children who otherwise seem healthy may have lead poisoning.  The only sure way to determine if a child has lead poisoning is to have your medical provider conduct a Blood Lead Level Test.

Adults can also be affected by lead.  When lead dust is inhaled or ingested, adults can develop high blood pressure, hypertension, kidney problems, digestive issues, memory and concentration problems, and joint and muscle aches, among other conditions. 

Lead poisoning is, however, completely preventable.  That is why it is important for you to be aware of the hazards of lead, avoid contact with it, and ensure that your renovation is being performed by a Certified Firm using Certified Renovators.

What To Expect During a Renovation

You may want to know some information about what happens during a proper renovation of a Pre-1978 home, with Lead-Based Paint, conducted under the RRP Rule.  The information you need will be covered in the Renovate Right pamphlet, but here are some brief points:

  • You will need to move everything that can be moved out of the room or area being renovated.


  • Your Certified Renovator will need to do several things to prepare for and conduct the renovation:


  • Put up caution signs to identify the work area as hazardous and for everyone, except the Certified Renovator and his or her trained workers, to stay out (this is very important for you, your family, and any pets).


  • Put up a double door flap, made out of plastic sheeting and tape, over the work area’s exit door.


  • Seal off all of the other doors, windows, and heating and cooling vents and returns with plastic sheeting and tape (you may also need to turn off the heating or cooling system during the renovation).


  • Cover any remaining heavy objects in the room with plastic.


  • Put down plastic sheeting on the floor and otherwise contain the hazardous renovation area in order to keep any dust that is produced inside the containment area.


  • Use paint removal methods that minimize the dust being created but should never use the Prohibited Practices, which are explained in your Renovate Right pamphlet.


  • Use specialized cleaning techniques to clean the work area such as using a special HEPA vacuum and disposable wet wipes


Once again, consult the Renovate Right pamphlet for more information on what to expect during a renovation.

Please Keep Your Family Safe

If you are a homeowner considering any type of remodeling or renovation project on your Pre-1978 home, please make sure you are keeping yourself and your family protected from lead-based paint hazards.  Please ensure that any contractor you get a bid from or hire to perform the work provides you with the following four documents:

1)      “Certified Firm” Certificate, which proves that the company is approved by the EPA,

2)      “Certified Renovator” Certificate of the Project Manager assigned to your project, which proves that the renovator successfully completed the required training course,

3)      A Free Copy of the “Renovate Right” pamphlet, prior to the beginning of your renovation project, which informs you of potential lead hazards, and

4)      (after your renovation project has been completed) A Free Copy of the “Post Renovation Report,” which lets you know how the Certified Firm complied with the RRP Rule.

All of these documents are required by the EPA.  If your contractor does not have these documents, he or she is violating the regulations.  Please have them call 713-213-1205 for information on how to comply with the RRP Rule.

You can go to www.epa.gov/lead or call 1-800-424-LEAD (5323) for lead data.  Additionally, you can get some great information from the National Center for Healthy Housing at www.nchh.org or from www.conserveiq.com.

This information is important for you and your family.  Please keep informed about the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule and its requirements to help prevent lead poisoning.  Your family’s health depends on it.

About the Author
Scott von Gonten, CGA, CGP, CR, CDST, provides Consulting Services as well as the most accurate, effective, and memorable Certified Renovator Training and Certified Dust Sampling Technician Training available. ConserveIQ is partnering with the National Center for Healthy Housing, an EPA-accredited training provider, to present Certified Renovator and Certified Dust Sampling Technician training Nationwide. Scott is a Principal Instructor for NCHH, a Certified Renovator, a Certified Dust Sampling Technician, a Certified Graduate Associate, and a Certified Green Professional. He is also a member of the NAHB Society of Honored Associates, the Faculty of the NAHB University of Housing, the Boards of Directors for the National Association of Home Builders and the Texas Association of Builders, as well as many other boards, councils, and committees at the national, state, and local levels. You can contact him at svongonten@conserveiq.com or (713) 213-1205. Take the "ConserveIQ Quiz" at www.ConserveIQ.com.