EPA Implements New Lead-Paint Regulations
On April 22, 2010, a new federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lead-based paint rule called “The Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule” took effect. The new rule requires owners to follow lead safe work practices when disturbing a painted surface in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities. Disturbances can occur when painted surfaces are sanded, demolished, renovated, or repaired.
The rule changes the way property managers, renovation and remodeling contractors, maintenance workers, painters, and other specialty trades do business in housing built before 1978 and child-occupied facilities. It includes new training requirements, additional notifications and disclosures, new work practices, new clearance requirements, and expanded records requirements.
With the help of Joshua Sarett, president of ALC Environmental, Inc., a national environmental and engineering firm based in New York City, we will cover the rule's requirements and how it interacts with Local Law 1, New York City's lead-based paint law. An understanding of these rules will allow property managers and owners to be diligent in making sure their building staff and outside contractors thoroughly understand their obligations and avoid fines of up to $37,500 and even more headaches down the road.
New Training Requirements
The rule requires individual renovators and contractors to complete a state- or EPA-accredited course and obtain certification. This includes building employees who do work that disturbs lead-based paint. Owners and contractors can get a list of accredited trainers at http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/trainingproviders.htm.
The rule also requires firms that employ workers to have a company license issued by the EPA. In the past, the EPA rules for lead-based paint only governed activities for abatement. Workers who have already been trained under Local Law 1 and who already have a Lead Safe Work Practices Certificate can be grandfathered in by taking a four-hour refresher course given by a certified training firm.
Sarett recommends that owners who use outside contractors should make sure they are properly trained in Lead Safe Work Practices under the new rule and should ask to see their certificates.
Notifications and Disclosures
The new rule requires contractors to notify tenants before disturbing any painted services by giving them a handout called the “Renovate Right” pamphlet. This pamphlet replaces the “Protect Your Family from Lead” pamphlet previously required. You can get a copy of the pamphlet by going to the EPA Web site, http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/rrp.htm.
Contractors must also give tenants a disclosure form informing them of the nature and timing of renovation activity and the potential of lead hazards. The EPA has a sample form contractors and owners can use at http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/rrp.htm. In addition, workers including your building staff are required to post warning signs around the affected areas.
If the owner's employee is acting as the contractor for the work, the owner must give the pamphlet and disclosure form to the tenants. Owners who are using an outside contractor should be certain that the contractors have a copy of the “Renovate Right” pamphlet and a proper disclosure form.
Safe Work Practices
Like Local Law 1, the city's lead-based paint law, the new EPA rule requires safe work practices. Workers are required to cover all HVAC ducts, remove or cover loose objects, and cover floor surfaces and doors.
Upon completion, the work area is required to be properly cleaned using a HEPA vacuum or wet mopping. These work practices are very similar to the ones required by Local Law 1. So owners should easily be able to come into compliance.
Upon completion of the work, the certified renovator must perform the post-renovation cleaning verification by using the EPA-provided post-verification “check card” to determine whether clearance is met. This will be done by using disposable cleaning cloths to wipe various surfaces in the work area. The color of the cloth is then compared to the color of the verification check card. If the cloth matches or is lighter than the card, the surface will pass the cleaning verification.
Surfaces that do not pass the first attempt must be recleaned. It is important to note that the post-verification check card does not supersede the need for third-party clearance dust testing under Local Law 1. Property managers and owners in New York City will still need a certified lead inspection firm and lead inspector to perform clearance testing per Local Law 1 guidelines.
Owners and contractors must maintain documents demonstrating compliance with the new rule for three years. These include the signed disclosure forms, any owner opt-out forms, and documentation that safe work practices and clearance requirements, as described above, were used.
The rule allows for exemptions from these requirements. The new rule doesn't cover lead abatement as defined under the previous rules. It also doesn't cover minor repair, which is defined as work disturbing less than six square feet inside the building or 20 square feet outside the building. Maintenance activities are also exempt. For example, the rule would not cover the painting of an apartment if the owner does not do any surface preparation that would cause dust to be released.
The rule also does not apply to areas found free of lead-based paint by a certified inspector or risk assessor and work performed by an owner in an owner-occupied residence. Owners who got an exemption under Local Law 1 where no lead-based paint was found to be present will be exempt from the new EPA rule.
New EPA Rule and Local Law 1
According to Sarett, the new EPA rule does not supersede previous EPA regulations or Local Law 1. In general, work done in pre-1960 rental units will remain governed by Local Law 1 with certain exceptions. For instance, owners will need to hand out the new “Renovate Right” pamphlet to tenants.
In addition, Local Law 1 covers a broader amount of work—such as work disturbing two or more square feet inside the building—than the new EPA rule. So owners of New York City buildings who make smaller repairs will still need to comply with Local Law 1, even though they are not covered by the new EPA rule. Any other issues or conflicts that arise will need to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Owners who hire contractors to do work in their buildings that may disturb lead paint should ask for references. The best way to insure that your contractors are achieving compliance with the various rules is to use a qualified lead paint consultant.
For more information, ALC Environmental, Inc., will be offering free learning seminars throughout New York City and the region. And it is presently offering the accredited training course in English and Spanish at its facility or your building. For more information, you can reach ALC Environmental at (888) 466-3620 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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