National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: Tips for Safe Renovations

lead poisoning prevention weekLead poisoning affects millions of homeowners, particularly those with homes built prior to 1978.  Parents should take note that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 250,000 U.S. children have elevated blood-lead levels and often suffer devastating health effects -- even though childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children. 

In light of the new law mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), called Lead Renovation, Repair, Painting Rule (LRRP), this year's efforts are even more worthwhile to encourage consumers to hire lead certified remodelers when remodeling a home built prior to 1978.

To help, a number of organizations have joined together to promote this year's National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) on October 24-30, 2010.  NLPPW organizers include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).  Collectively, they aim to raise awareness of the dangers of lead exposure, and encourage consumers to hire lead certified remodelers when remodeling target homes (pre-1978). 

Here is a renovation lead safety checklist to minimize lead exposure for homeowners living in pre-1978 homes:

  • Verify that your contractor's firm is registered with the EPA unless your state has taken over their own lead safety program, in which case the certification process may be slightly different. To find out if your state is working under its own lead program, visit http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm#authorized.  
  • Verify at least one person is a Certified Renovator and has documented the training of the work crew and is supervising the work being completed in the home.
  • Know that these certifications must be accessible at the work site at all times.
  • Firms must post signs before renovation begins, clearly defining the work area and warning occupants and other persons not involved in renovation activities to remain outside of the work area.
  • Make sure you understand and sign the EPA's "Renovate Right" brochure.
  • Remove all belongings from the immediate area of the renovation.
  • Notice if your contractor is using plastic sheeting that is taped 6 feet beyond the perimeter of surfaces undergoing renovation; reusable cloth coverings are not acceptable.
  • Renovators should be cleaning up and mopping daily to minimize dust contamination.
  • Contractors must use HEPA vacuums and/or wet mopping to remove lead particles.
  • All contaminated materials should be placed in heavy duty plastic bags before your contractor disposes of them.

To learn more about testing your child's lead levels, testing your home for lead for lead or preventing health effects related to lead exposure visit http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/nlppw.htm. To find a NARI remodeler who is also a Lead Certified Renovator, visit www.nari.org.