Comply with New EPA Rules When Renovating Older Housing
In April 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued important new rules on renovation, repair, and painting of housing that was built before 1978. According to the EPA, the new requirements are part of a comprehensive federal effort to eliminate childhood lead poisoning.
The new rules specifically cover multifamily rental housing, so you need to be familiar with them before you begin any significant nonemergency repairs or rehabilitation projects at your site. Here are three major rules you need to follow.
Rule #1: Make Sure Workers Are Trained and EPA-Certified
To protect residents from lead-based paint hazards, the EPA is now requiring contractors, building maintenance staff, and other site workers to receive training and certification and to follow certain protective lead-safe work practices in projects that disturb lead-based paint in housing built before 1978. Beginning in April 2010, workers must be certified in lead-safe work practices by the EPA. They must follow those practices in their work in order to keep hazardous dust from spreading. Under the new requirements, contractors must set up work areas that will not expose residents. They must minimize dust, clean up thoroughly, and dispose of debris carefully.
To get certification, individuals must finish an eight-hour training course offered by an EPA-accredited training provider. Recertification is required every five years. Training courses are already available. If a company or firm gets certification, it must ensure that renovations are performed or supervised by certified staff.
The policy is intended to protect children under age 6 from exposure to lead, which has been shown to be seriously harmful to them. The EPA says that the most common sources of exposure are deteriorating lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust, and lead-contaminated residential soil. Lead dust can form when lead-based paint is dry scraped, dry sanded, or heated. Removing or treating lead-based paint improperly can increase the dangers of exposure, so the EPA is mandating lead-safe work practices in major renovation projects.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The EPA rules supplement the requirements of HUD's Lead Safe Housing Rule and all state and local requirements. The HUD Lead Safe Housing Rule makes you responsible for ongoing lead-based paint maintenance and reevaluation as part of your regular building operations, unless you have a certification that all lead-based paint has been removed. To identify lead hazards at your site, you need a professional risk assessment from a properly licensed inspector. To control or to permanently remove identified lead hazards, you must hire a certified lead abatement contractor who is familiar with HUD's complex requirements. Under HUD rules, at the completion of a lead-control project at your site, you must get a clearance examination that shows the lead hazard has been abated. To locate a certified firm in your area, go to http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/nlic.htm or call 1-800-424-LEAD . HUD requirements for subsidized housing are found at 24 CFR 35; see also http://www.hud.gov/offices/lead/enforcement/lshr.cfm.
Rule #2: Distribute Pamphlet, Keep Records
Effective now, contractors, property managers, and others who perform nonemergency renovations in residential houses and units built before 1978 are required to distribute an EPA lead pamphlet before starting renovation work.
You must get confirmation that the resident received the lead pamphlet up to 60 days before work begins, or you must get a certificate of mailing from the Post Office at least seven days before renovation begins. You may self-certify delivery of the lead hazard information pamphlet to a resident if the resident is unavailable or unwilling to sign a confirmation of receipt of the lead pamphlet. You must retain records for three years. For an example of a confirmation form, see our Model Form: Confirm Resident Received Pamphlet Before Beginning Renovation.
The required pamphlet is titled “Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Facilities and Schools” (Publication EPA-740-F-08-002). Note that this is not the same as the pamphlet that you must distribute before signing leases. For copies, in Spanish or English, call the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) at 1-800-424-LEAD, visit http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/brochure.htm, or call the Government Printing Office order desk at (202) 512-1800.
Rule #3: Notify Residents of Common Area Projects in Advance
For nonemergency work in common areas of multifamily housing sites, which include both the interior and exterior of the buildings, you must distribute renovation notices to residents or post informational signs that describe the nature, locations, and dates of the renovation or repair job. Signs must be accompanied by the lead renovation pamphlet or by information on how to get a free copy. You must maintain written documentation describing your notification procedures. You must update the renovation notice and signs if changes occur in the location, timing, or scope of the renovation project. Signs should be in the language of the occupants.
For an example of how to notify residents, see our Model Notice: Notify Residents of Renovations in Common Areas.
What Counts as Renovation?
The EPA defines “renovation” broadly. It includes any repair or maintenance work that might disturb painted surfaces. The rule covers work you or your staff members do yourselves as well as any work by contractors, painters, carpenters, electricians, or other service providers you hire on a short-term basis. However, the rule does not cover minor repair and maintenance activities that disturb six square feet or less of paint per room inside, or 20 square feet or less on the exterior of a home or building, unless the project involves window replacement or demolition.
According to the EPA, if the surface to be painted is not disturbed by sanding, scraping, or other activities that may generate dust, the work is not considered renovation under the new rules. However, painting projects that involve surface preparation that disturbs existing paint, such as sanding and scraping, are considered renovation and are covered by the new rules.
The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) offers the following examples of renovation and repair activities covered by the EPA rules:
Removal or modification of painted components such as doors;
Repairing a painted surface or preparing it for repainting by sanding, scraping, burning, or other action that may generate paint dust;
Removal of walls, ceilings, and other structures;
Weatherization work that disturbs painted surfaces; and
The rule does not apply to housing built in 1978 or later. It does not apply to zero-bedroom dwellings like dormitories or studios, to housing for the elderly or disabled as long as no children under 6 reside or are expected to reside there, or to housing that has been declared lead-free by a certified lead inspector or risk assessor.
The EPA rules have provisions that apply to day care centers, pre-schools, and kindergarten classrooms, whether they are located in housing complexes or in public or commercial buildings. If a portion of your site is used regularly as classroom or day care space for children under age 6, it may be considered a “child-occupied facility” under the regulations. In that case, your notification must include parents or guardians of the children who use the facility.
The EPA has established penalties of up to $32,500 per violation per day for noncompliance. EPA has the right to audit your records up to three years after your renovation project is complete, so don't throw anything away. State and local penalties may also apply.
Healthy homes advocates lauded the new EPA rules: “The Alliance for Healthy Homes and NCHH praise the new EPA regulation as a step in the right direction in saving children, workers, and occupants from exposure to unhealthy levels of lead during renovation, repair, and painting activities in homes and child-occupied buildings built before 1978.”
PRACTICAL POINTER: For more information on the new rules and your responsibilities, go to: http://www.healthyhomestraining.org/LSWP/EPA_Rule_FAQs.htm#Deadlines. For a CDC podcast discussing the new rules, go to: http://www2a.cdc.gov/podcasts/player.asp?f=10121. For the full text of the regulation, go to: http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-TOX/2008/April/Day-22/t8141.htm.
New Funding for Lead Poisoning Prevention
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $100 million in new funding for lead poisoning prevention and healthy homes initiatives. In May, HUD awarded 53 grants in 20 states and the District of Columbia, for state and local government and nonprofit programs that mitigate lead hazards in low-income housing. Grantees will use funds to:
Conduct lead inspections/risk assessments of high-risk housing;
Distribute lead prevention cleaning kits;
Provide training in lead-safe renovation practices and lead-safe maintenance techniques to contractors, maintenance workers, and property owners;
Abate lead hazards in units;
Provide blood lead testing of children under age 6; and
Develop local registries of lead-safe housing.
Check with your local housing or public health department to see if your community has a lead hazard control program or a healthy homes program. These programs often offer free training events to help property owners understand their responsibilities under federal, state, and local law. They also provide free or low-cost resources to evaluate property for lead hazards or clean up known hazards.
A centralized healthy homes training calendar can be found at: http://www.healthyhomestraining.org/curriculum/lead.htm.
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See The Model Tools For This Article
|Confirm Resident Received Pamphlet Before Beginning Renovation|
|Notify Residents of Renovation in Common Areas|