For years now we have know about the serious side affects from Lead exposure and poisoning. Fortunately in 1978 the use of lead based paint was banned for residential use. If you purchased a home building after this date, then your home should be free of lead, but what if your home was built prior to 1978? Chances are good that your home has lead in it. Normally this is not a major problem unless you have young children who like to suck on the windowsills or if you have significant cracking and peeling on interior or exterior painted surfaces.
Now however, these homes are at least 31 years or older and many of them are coming up for renovations and additions. When a home that was built prior to 1978 is renovated there is a high probability that construction on the home will disturb and expose significant amounts of lead dust inthe home and on the property. This exposure can affect you, your children and even your neighbors. The affects of lead poisoning are extremely dangerous and especially to children under the age of 6. Are there things that you can do to improve the safety of lead in your home, especially if you are doing small do-it-yourself projects? Yes, and a quick Google search or a visit to the EPA website will provide you with a wealth of free information.
However, the EPA has recently stepped up it’s efforts to require that licensed building contractors follow strict requirements to prevent lead contamination. How does that affect you the homeowner? If you hire a contractor to renovate your home that was built prior to 1978, federal law now requires that contractors be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Therefore, it is important that before you hire a building contractor or renovation firm, first, be sure that they have met the EPA requirements for certification and training.
What should you ask and receive from a certified contractor?
1. They should be able to provide a copy of their EPA or state lead training certificate.
2. They can tell you what lead-safe methods they will use to perform the job.
3. They should ask you to share the results of any previously conducted lead tests in your home.
4. They should offer references from other recent jobs involving homes built before 1978.
5. They should demonstrate that their workers and any subcontractors have been trained in lead-safe work practices and that they follow lead-safe work practices while on the job.
So, if you are renovating your home be sure to choose a reputable licensed contractor who is trained and certified according to EPA regulations.
For more information visit http://www.epa.gov/lead/index.html
If you are considering designing a new addition or renovation to your pre-1978 home, please feel free to ask any of our addition specialists for more information. We will be happy to provide you with a copy of the “Renovate Right” brochure from the EPA and answer your questions.