Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PRESS RELEASE: Lead-Safe Remodling

Lead-safe Remodeling

New EPA guidelines for dealing with lead paint are designed to keep families, workers and remodelers safe from lead poisoning.

Des Plaines, Illinois, Oct. 1, 2008— If you live in a home built before 1978, chances are you may be exposed to lead. Common renovation activities like sanding, drilling and demolition can distribute harmful lead dust and chips, creating a hazardous environment for homeowners.

To protect against this risk, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a rule requiring the use of more stringent lead-safe practices aimed at preventing lead poisoning. Under the new rule, beginning in April 2010, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

"When you're doing remodeling of a home built pre-1978 there is an awful amount of lead dust that gets released into the air—if you don't take the proper precautions," said Michael Hydeck, CR, CKBR, vice president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and owner of Hydeck & MacKay Builders in Telford, Pa. "This is particularly dangerous for children under six years of age and pregnant women, but it's also not good for the worker."

Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk because babies and young children often put their hands and other objects in their mouths, possibly exposing themselves to lead.

The EPA has encouraged lead-safe practices for many years, but the new regulations give remodelers and homeowners a higher standard to which to refer. According to the new rules, contractors working on homes built before 1978 will have to have a certified lead remodeler on staff. Remodelers will get certified by the EPA by participating and passing a concentrated eight-hour training course about the dangers of lead paint, how to set up work areas that will not expose residents, minimize dust and leave the work area clean. Contractors will use a number of protective measures, including: wearing appropriate eyewear, clothing and repertory protection on the job. Inside the work areas remodelers will remove furniture and belongings during the project or cover them with heavy plastic sheeting, close and seal vents and turn-off forced air heat and air conditioning systems if necessary.

To minimize the spread of lead dust, workers should mist areas before sanding, scraping or drilling and cutting; score paint before separating it from surfaces and pry and pull it away instead of hammering; and always use a shroud with a HEPA vacuum attachment when using power tools and equipment. Leaving the work area clean is of utmost importance. To do this, remodelers will remove waste using heavy plastic bags or sheeting, ensure everything is free of dust before removing it from the work area and cleaning with a HEPA vacuum. Changing out of dusty work clothes also helps to reduce the spread of potentially harmful dust. "It's the stuff that you can't see that can hurt you," Hydeck noted.

In addition, remodelers will be required to give each homeowner a pamphlet called, "Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools," which includes sheet in it for the homeowner to sign that acknowledges that they have read it. The new lead-safe pamphlet is now available.

While there won't be a 'lead police" looking for remodelers who break the new lead rules, Hydeck said he hopes the new regulations will persuade everyone to be more aware of the potential for lead poisoning. Homeowners are encouraged to report questionable work practices to the EPA.

"There are people that won't undergo the certification, but those are also the people who might sneak under the radar and work jobs without a license or insurance," Hydeck said. "There are already people out there practicing lead-safe practices. It only makes sense that contractors protect themselves and their customers."

Although the new rules don't kick in until 2010, the EPA recommends that anyone performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools follow lead-safe work practices. Contractors working on projects with the potential of lead exposure should follow these three simple procedures: contain the work area, minimize dust and clean up thoroughly.

NARI hosted "Learn About Lead: The New EPA Rules and You," a Webinar that is now archived for on-demand viewing, to educate the remodeling community on what they need to know to prepare their business for this.

If you are planning a home remodel, NARI remodelers can help homeowners complete the project using lead-safe practices. Log on to to find a remodeler in your area.

About NARI: The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is the only trade association dedicated solely to the remodeling industry. With more than 7,700 member companies nationwide, the Association — based in Des Plaines, Illinois — is "The Voice of the Remodeling Industry."™ For membership information, or to locate a local NARI chapter or a remodeling professional, visit NARI's Web site at, or contact the national headquarters office at 800-611-NARI.

Jessica Tobacman or Nikki Golden
(847) 298-9200

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