Common renovation activities, like sanding, cutting and demolition, can stir up hazardous lead dust, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This dust can be harmful to both adults and children.
The federal Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule requires that contractors, property managers and others working for compensation in homes and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 be trained and use lead-safe work practices. They also must provide a copy of the brochure, “Renovate Right; Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools,” to owners and occupants before starting renovation work.
Homeowners completing their own renovations should take steps to protect themselves and their families from exposure to lead dust. These steps include:
– Containing the work area so that dust does not escape from the area; covering floors and furniture that cannot be moved with heavy duty plastic and tape; sealing off doors and heating and cooling system vents
– Keeping children, pregnant women, and pets out of the work area at all times
– Minimizing dust during the project by using techniques that generate less dust, such as wet sanding or scraping, or using sanders or grinders that have HEPA vacuum attachments, which capture the dust that is generated
– Cleaning up thoroughly by using a HEPA vacuum and wet wiping to clean up dust and debris on surfaces; mopping floors with plenty of rinse water before removing plastic containment from doors, windows, and vents
Keep in mind that certain emergency provisions of the RRP Rule may apply. Work covered under the rule’s provision for flood-damaged housing does not require advance notice or trained renovators to remove materials, including debris, from damaged homes. Also, emergency renovation activities are exempt from the rule’s warning sign, containment, waste-handling, training, and certification requirements—but only to the extent necessary to respond to the emergency. Cleaning, cleaning verification and record-keeping requirements still apply to emergency renovations. Other non-emergency renovation activities remain subject to the rule’s requirements, including the posting of signs and containment.
In addition, volunteers who do not receive compensation for work are not required to be trained and certified, under the rule. However, volunteers are strongly advised to educate themselves about lead-safe work practices to avoid causing health or safety hazards for themselves or others.
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