The use of lead paint in homes and buildings built prior to 1978 is common enough that guidelines have been set by the EPA on how a home remodeler should approach projects and how they should inform their customers before starting a job.
This requirement is not only on contractors that tare down walls or sand exterior siding the problem occurs in every variety of work so the guides apply to all contractors.
To learn more about the exact EPA Guides you can visit http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadrenf.htm
As an overview we will try to cover some of the instances where you should inform the home owner if you are working in their home.
If renovation occurs in a home built prior to 1978 and any of the following work is performed a notice must be provided to the owner and the occupants at a time of no less then 7 days prior but not longer then 60 days before the work is started:
Remodeling and repair/maintenance
What Housing Or Activities are Excluded?
Housing built in 1978 or later
Housing for the elderly or disabled persons (unless children will reside there)
Zero-bedroom dwellings (studio apartment, dormitories, etc.)
Housing or components declared lead-free by a certified inspector or risk assessor
Emergency renovations and repairs
Minor repairs and maintenance that disturb two square feet or less of paint per component.
As stated when you work on multi tenant buildings there are important steps that you must take to inform and record that you have notified both the owner / customer and the occupants that Lead is a hazard and that your work may expose some lead from the materials that you are working on.
You are also required to keep record of your notification and the EPA has provided forms that you can use to do this. A signature should be given but if not then you can state that you delivered the pamphlet by mail or other means.
Working with lead is a Hazard for your customers and for your workers. Precautions should be taken to reduce exposure for everyone and by notifying your customer and their tenants you reduce any future problems that may arise.
Along with notification testing should be performed and when necessary precautions and specialists can be used to test for the presence of and control the spread of lead dust.
Lead is not only found in paint but it is also found internally in many products that a home owner may purchase such as plastics used for window blinds. When the plastic in the window blinds degrades because of sun exposure the lead forms as a dust. If you work in a building and take all precautions and care a customer may confuse the dust on their blinds as a result of your work. This is an honest problem that must be addressed.
You may also need to tell your customer that sanding is not advised and total replacement or encapsulation such as a 3/8″ drywall panel being placed over the entire interior of the home or a sealer and then application of vinyl siding over the contaminated wood siding is their easiest way to reduce lead exposure. In some cases such as moldings and doors total replacement or dipping at a certified paint stripper company is the only way to remove and prepare old wood detail items.
There are many options for the contractor and the customer but notification, testing and proper execution is a good plan for everyone.
For more information please visit
YouRepair.com also sells Lead testing supplies in our online store
these instant test kits are a good way to test for lead before you accept or start work
that way you can know if you need a specialist to test your project area
and you will be able to prepare your customer for what the total project requires.
These kits cost under $20
Although they are not the best method of testing they are probably the quickest and easiest way to get a preliminary reading. Notice False Positives and Negatives do occure with these tests due to the way they are used and the limits of the test themselfs. So, a Positive should only be used as a way to justify the need for professional Xray testing and a Negative should not be relied on as meaning the item tested is always lead free.