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For centuries, lead paint has been a dangerous aspect of painting. It wasn't until the 20th century that the hazards of lead paint were realized; the U.S. government banned its use or sale in 1978. Unfortunately, many American homes and schools still have lead paint in their walls. If you decide to renovate, paint, or repair your home, take heed, because it can be dangerous; it may turn existing lead paint into dust that adults or children can inhale. Commercial Painting methods are increasingly effected by lead paint. It is for this reason that the Environmental Protection Agency EPA decided to create a new certification program that stipulates repair, renovation, and painting RRP workers to take special training and use "lead-safe" practices on jobs. This is a long overdue and important safety measure for RRP workers.
In April 2010, the EPA's Lead-Safe Certification Program, published in 2008, took effect. The program requires RRP workers, when working with lead paint in schools, child-care centers, or homes built before 1978, to be certified in lead paint removal. The EPA also began a PR campaign to encourage consumers to only go with certified RRP firms. The EPA estimates that more than 200,000 United States renovators will have done work on buildings built before 1978 within one year of the program's institution.
If lead paint is in technically "good shape," it won't usually harm humans; it's only when removed improperly does it cause problems. Most of the time, lead dust or chips will be found on the areas of the building that get the most use, like stairs, doors, porches, and windowsills. When a RRP worker sands, scrapes, or heats an area with lead paint, it can turn it into particle matter that hangs out in the air.
What many home or business owners may not realize is that the ground around their property could contain lead The dirt can absorb lead paint particles from the exterior walls, and dust inside the building can contain lead. If you're worried that your children have been exposed and suffered from prolonged exposure, take them to the doctor for a blood test.
Landlords of buildings built before 1978 are now required by the EPA to discuss possible lead paint present in the building with potential renters and owners; this information must also be listed on the lease agreement. If someone is sell a building built before 1978, they also have to provide lead paint details to all parties in the decision-making process toward making a purchase. If a seller or buyer doesn't know if the building contains lead, they can have a paint inspection and risk assessment done to determine how much lead if any is in the paint and what problems it may cause.
The Lead-Safe Certification Program may seem to be fear-mongering to some, but it wasn't developed by the government just to inquire into a homeowners' private life. If a child is exposed to lead paint, he or she can have behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and compromised intelligence; symptoms may not be present until the damage done is irreversible. Not taking a child's health seriously is a crime, especially when it comes to lead paint – their bodies are still developing, so poisonous lead exposure takes a greater toll on them than it does on adults. While lead poisoning in children is completely preventable, it still affects over one million children.
Inhaling lead paint dust is not good for pregnant women. If a pregnant woman inhales lead dust, it can be harmful for the baby. If adults are exposed to lead dust, it can cause hypertension, nerve damage, declined concentration and memory, reproductive issues, and paint in muscles or joints. Because two-thirds of U.S. homes and apartments buildings in the States were built pre-1978, the EPA's new policy is a paramount program.
RRP workers who practice lead-safe procedures are not only protecting clients but also themselves. Facemasks and protective clothing is advisable for many jobs, and plastic sheeting is usually used to contain a work area. Workers, like children exposed to lead dust, should also take regular blood tests.
While it's true that the practices demanded by the EPA's certification program cost RRP companies more than the old, unsafe methods did, it's important for RRP workers to follow the new rules. Lead-safe projects cost between $8 and $167 more on average. If you are dealing with an exterior job that needs vertical containment, it'll cost you even more. Because of the higher cost of following EPA rules, some home and business owners may take it upon themselves to do these projects; that way, they don't have to follow the EPA rules exactly, but it would be a bad idea not to. One of the most important aspects of the program is to sandblast lead paint only at low power, and to seal drains, vents, and faucets when removing paint; otherwise, dust could infiltrate your home.
To apply for certification, a company needs to fill out a form and pay a $300 fee. The company's employees then take eight hours of training, two of which are hands-on. EPA-accredited trainers provide instruction, and some contractors even serve as trainers for their area. Presently, hundreds of approved trainers reside in the United States, and each one determines his or her training fees. After being trained, RRP workers will lessen the quantity of lead dust produced on each job, effectively contain their work area, and clean up completely after a job is finished. The RRP workers also prepare the homes before starting work and notify the owners about safety concerns during the process of renovating their home.
EPA certification for lead paint removal is valid for five years. If your RRP company isn't certified yet, you can contact the EPA to get started. Learning online is a great option. Training materials are available in English as well as Spanish and inform the worker about dust containment, prep, proper clean-up and much more. Small jobs or, jobs that disturb less than 6 sq. ft. of interior paint or 20 sq. ft. of exterior paint don't have to follow the new rules. Tribes and states may invent their own lead-safe practices, but they should be equivalent to the federal ones.
A contractor should provide the EPA's pamphlet on lead dangers to a customer. Customers have the right to see a company's certification and/or receive a copy of it; the company should also explain the lead-safe practices it uses on individual jobs. Contractors should have at least three references based on pre-1978 jobs and should have a record of all major details in relation to their employees' training in lead-safe practices.
If you choose to hire an uncertified RRP company, know that it isn't worth it; you'd be putting yourself and others at risk, and your contractor would risk large fines as much as $37,500/violation/day or even jail time. If you still have reservations about the EPA's lead-safe certification, call 1-800-424-LEAD; you can also look for a firm in your area by going to the EPA website.
The dangers of lead paint shouldn't be disregarded. The EPA is, after all, only trying to protect consumers and workers. It's now the consumers' choice to demand the safest possible work practices, and to the contractors to become certified and use only EPA-regulated practices. If we all work together, we can be sure that we'll create a safer environment for the future.

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