Lead paint removal laws are enforced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The laws are centered on housing units that are lease or sold and built before 1978. According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 250,000 children in the United States between the ages of 1 and 5 years have blood lead levels that exceed the recommended limit of 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. The leading source of lead poisoning in children is older buildings, which includes deteriorated surfaces with lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust and lead-contaminated residential soil.
Lead was originally added to paint to enhance its durability and drying properties. By 1955, the paint industry instituted new, voluntary standards that gradually led to the elimination of lead content in residential paint by 1978. As researchers have learned more about the negative health consequences of lead on people, laws have evolved to protect adults and children from its effects, especially when it is disturbed by activities such as remodeling.
The objective of lead paint removal laws is to enact uniform guidelines for lead paint removal actions, such as sanding, cutting and demolition. Often, these activities produce hazardous lead dust and lead-based paint chips. These contaminants have proved to be harmful to humans, particularly young children under the age of 6 years.
HUD lead paint removal laws refer to two types of lead-based paint removal methods that have been approved by the federal agency. Referred to as Lead Hazard Reduction, they are abatement and interim controls. Abatement is intended to permanently remove the identified lead-based paint hazard, which means the method will eliminate the hazard for at least 20 years.
The regulations require this work to be performed by certified abatement workers who have completed an abatement course that is accredited by the EPA. The work must be conducted under the supervision of a supervisor who has been certified by the EPA or under a State program approved by the EPA.
Accepted abatement methods include: (1) the removal of lead-based paint and dust;( 2) permanent enclosure or encapsulation of lead-based paint; (3) replacement of parts contaminated with lead-based paint; and (4) removal or permanent containment of contaminated soil.
Interim controls involve the temporary reduction of possible exposure by making repairs, painting, or maintenance. Some other approved methods for interim control are special cleaning, steps to protect occupants, clearance, and education. Anyone who performs standard treatment, interim controls, or paint stabilization is required to be trained according to the OSHA Hazard Communication procedures. They must also be supervised by a certified lead-based paint abatement supervisor or pass a HUD-approved training class.
Commencing in April 2010, contractors who "disturb lead-based paint" during the course of conducting renovation, repair or painting are required to follow specific guidelines. If they are working on residences, schools or child care facilities constructed prior to 1978, contractors must be certified and follow exact work practices in order to eliminate possible lead contamination. Until the new law becomes active, contractors involved with the renovation, repair or painting of any of the property types mentioned above are expected to implement the following lead-safe work procedures: (1) contain the area where the work is performed, (2) minimize dust as much as possible, and (3) conduct a thorough clean up of the work area.
Contractors play a key role in helping to make lead paint removal laws effective. They should be diligent about following lead-safe work procedures in order to prevent lead hazards. They are required to provide tenants, property owners and child care facility owners (serving children under the age of 6) with a copy of the EPA's pamphlet titled "Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools." The law requires contractors to keep records documenting their following of the requirements. The EPA provides a disclosure form specifically for this purpose.
Buying or Renting
Lead paint removal laws are especially concentrated on homes and apartment buildings constructed before 1978. The regulation requires persons to receive very specific information under the Residential Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Program. Landlords are required to disclose any information they have about lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards. The disclosure form must be part of the lease. Sellers of properties must disclose information they have about lead-based paint hazards before they can sell the property. The disclosure form is required to be made a part of the sales contract
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