Lead-based Paint Violations Surge in Remodeling Boom

As home remodeling increases, the EPA is warning remodelers to take special precautions in older homes and watch out for lead-based paint violations.

Lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint in homes built prior to 1978 is one of the most common causes of elevated blood levels of lead in children, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint in homes built prior to 1978 is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Even low levels of lead in a child’s blood can result in behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, and hearing problems.

Home remodeling has surged since the pandemic as more homeowners have sheltered in and looked to spruce up their places. According to the Joint Center of Housing Studies of Harvard University, the home remodeling wave is expected to continue to increase in 2022.

Renovations occurring in homes built prior to 1978, which may be at risk of having lead-based paint, may require extra precautions. Lead dust can occur when lead-based paint deteriorates or is disturbed, according to the EPA. “And with more kids spending more time in the home during the COVID-19 pandemic, their risk of exposure to lead chips and dust may increase,” the EPA notes in a statement. About 3.6 million American households have children under six who live in homes with lead exposure hazards, according to the EPA.

Identifying and mitigating exposure in any renovation is critical, the National Association of Home Builders warns on its site. For example, during the renovation, ducts need to be properly covered. Improper removal or disturbance of lead-based paint can generate lead dust and paint chips and pose a health hazard.

Homeowners doing a repair, renovation, or painting project in a home or apartment built prior to 1978 should hire an inspector to determine whether lead-based paint is present and ensure the work is done safely. Homeowners could also consider hiring a certified lead-safe contractor.

The EPA’s Lead Renovation Repair and Painting Program rule aims to protect the health of the occupants of a home and remodelers. Homeowners and remodelers will want to use lead-safe practices when lead-based paint is assumed or confirmed to be at the residence. An EPA inspection—either of remodeling records or of the active job site—will require documentation on compliance with the RRP rule as well. You can view the inspection manual here.

The EPA recently fined eight residential home remodeling businesses for violations of federal lead-based paint regulations.

“Reducing exposure to lead-based paint, especially among children, is a top priority for EPA,” Ed Kowalski, director of EPA Region 10’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, said in a statement. “The Agency is committed to ensuring that home renovators follow the law and protect people from exposure.”

Source: Realtor Magazine, “EPA Reaches Settlement With Eight Washington Renovators for Lead-Based Paint Violations,” EPA (May 4, 2021) and “Remodeling Boom Shines a Light on Lead-Based Paint Violations,” National Association of Home Builders (May 28, 2021)

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