DES PLAINES, IL — The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is raising awareness of the dangers of lead exposure by observing National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week on Oct. 23-29, 2011. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule requires certification and lead-safe work practices for any renovation, repair or painting projects in homes and child care facilities built before 1978.
“Through awareness and education, NARI is hoping to motivate every remodeler and homeowner to abide by the RRP rule when renovating their homes for the safety of the vulnerable populations who could potentially be impacted by lead exposure,” says NARI National President Michael Hydeck, MCR, CKBR, of Hydeck Design Build in Telford, Pa.
The RRP rule is designed to protect pregnant women and children under 6 from toxic lead exposure by requiring contractors to complete an eight-hour training course outlining lead-safe work practices that contain and minimize lead dust. Those who complete the course must supervise the renovation of pre-1978 homes, and the contracting firm must be a Certified Firm with the EPA. NARI is concerned that lack of awareness of RRP and additional costs to comply with this rule is actually putting this target audience at higher risk for lead exposure.
NARI’s June 2011 consumer survey proved this, revealing an opposite effect from the rule’s intended purpose based on consumer behaviors and buying habits for renovations in older homes. The survey, which used Meredith Corp.'s Home Enthusiast Panel to gauge homeowner attitudes and knowledge of RRP, found 53 percent of respondents had not heard about this rule prior to the survey. Fifty-nine percent of homeowners responded they would do demolition work themselves in order to save money—an activity that can create significant lead hazards. Twenty-nine percent would likely hire a non-certified contractor to work on their home in order to save money.
“These results indicate that homeowners are largely unaware of the dangers of lead—so much so, that they are willing to put their families at risk in order to reduce remodeling costs,” Hydeck says.
That was not the case with Dan and Michelle Neifert, homeowners from Boise, Idaho, whose 75-year-old home recently went through a complete renovation. “I knew that I had to find a lead certified renovator to work on my home because every contactor we talked to said we needed to test the home and that it was against the law not to,” Dan Neifert says.
The RRP rule became even more important to the Neifert’s after discovering they were expecting their first child. Though they did not live in the home while the gut-rehab took place, it was still important that lead-safe work practices and clean-up processes were implemented and followed to protect their child from lead exposure.
“We figured lead was in the home, and we wanted to have everything done correctly and safely for our new child, regardless of added costs and time,” Dan Neifert says. They conducted lead testing before demolition to identify exactly which areas required lead-safe work practices.
Lead was found in the exterior and interior of the home. The exterior windows, tiles, stucco siding of the home and detached garage tested positive, and the interior bathroom tile floor, utility room ceiling and crawlspace access were positive as well. Since the remodeling project involved replacement of all windows, renovation of the main floor and conversion of a garage into living space, all work was done within RRP guidelines.
The Neiferts said that lead testing, labor and materials added cost to the project, and they say the demolition added an additional week to their project.
“The lead-safe work practices I witnessed from visiting the home was the worksite was surrounded by cautionary tape, the entire exterior of the home was covered in plastic, and those working inside wore respirators and suits,” Dan Neifert says. He adds that because he was located in a historic district, he had to notify neighbors of his remodeling plans and inform them of the RRP renovation that was taking place.
NARI member Joe Levitch, CR, EPA Lead Certified Renovator and Lead Paint Inspector and Risk Assessor, of Boise, Idaho’s Levco Builders completed the Neifert’s renovation and lead testing. “It’s a win-win for the homeowners to keep their families safe and have proof that their home is safe for anyone to live in for years to come.”
NARI, along with week organizers Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the EPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, are assisting in promotion of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, According to the CDC, childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet an estimated 250,000 U.S. children have elevated blood-lead levels.
In honor of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, NARI is providing this checklist to minimize lead exposure for homeowners living in pre-1978 homes:
- Verify that your contractor’s firm is registered with the EPA unless your state has taken over with its own lead safety program, in which case the certification process may be slightly different.
- To find out if your state is working under its own lead program, visit epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm#authorized.
- Verify at least one person is a Certified Renovator and has documented the training of the work crew and is supervising the work being completed in the home.
- Know that these certifications must be accessible at the work site at all times.
- Firms must post signs before renovation begins, clearly defining the work area and warning occupants and other persons not involved in renovation activities to remain outside of the work area.
- Make sure you understand and sign the EPA’s “Renovate Right” brochure.
- Remove all belongings from the immediate area of the renovation. Notice if your contractor is using plastic sheeting that is taped 6 feet beyond the perimeter of surfaces undergoing renovation; reusable cloth coverings are not acceptable.
- Renovators should be cleaning up and mopping daily to minimize dust contamination. Contractors must use HEPA vacuums and/or wet mopping to remove lead particles.
- All contaminated materials should be placed in heavy duty plastic bags before your contractor disposes of them.
- To learn more about testing your child’s lead levels, testing your home for lead for lead or preventing health effects related to lead exposure visit cdc.gov/nceh/lead/nlppw.htm.
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