Lead-Based Paint Law

The dangers of lead-based paint have been known for many years now– use has been discontinued, homeowners and renters don’t reside in old homes where traces are detected… but a facet that hasn’t been considered is the effect of hazardous lead dust and chips that occur when old buildings are demolished, old walls sanded down, and the like.  Until now.
Next Thursday, April 22nd, a new federal law takes effect. To protect that risk, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) issued a rule requiring lead-safe practices. The Renovation, Repair, & Painting Rule will affect contractors, painters, maintenance workers, property managers, owners, and many others who disturb painted surfaces by means such as sanding, demolition, renovation, repair, etc, and applies to residential houses, apartments, and child-occupied facilities such as schools and day-care centers built before 1978. Fines up to $37,500 could be incurred if not followed properly.
What does it all entail? Multi Family Investor outlines it well:

New Training Requirements

The rule requires individual renovators/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 online. 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 4 hour refresher course given by a certified training firm. 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 hand out called the ‘Renovate Right” pamphlet. This pamphlet, replaces the “Protect Your Family from Lead” pamphlet previously required. You can get a copy of a pamphlet by going to the EPA Web site. 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 also provided a sample for contractors and owners can use here.  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 the city’s lead based paint law (Local Law 1), the new EPA rule requires safe work practices.  Workers are required to cover all HVAC ducts, remove or cover loose objects, 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.

Clearance Requirements

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 if 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 re-cleaned.  It is important to note that the post verification check card does not supercede 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.

Records Requirements

Owners and contractors must maintain documents demonstrating compliance with the new rule must be maintained for three years.  These include the signed disclosure form, any owner opt-out forms and documentation that safe work practices and clearance requirements, as described above, were used.

Exemptions

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 (defined as work disturbing less than 6 square feet inside the building or 20 square feet out side the building) and maintenance activities (for example, the rule wouldn’t cover the painting of an apartment if the owner did not do any surface preparation that would cause dust to be released), 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

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 (work disturbing two or more square feet inside the building) than the new EPA rule (work disturbing six or more square feet inside the building). So owners of New York City 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.

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