June 21, 2011
Post-Disaster Home Renovations and Lead-Based Paint
Natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes or floods often result in the need for emergency renovations to damaged homes and other structures. When common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition occur in structures that contain lead-based paint, such activities can create lead-based paint hazards, including lead-contaminated dust. Lead-based paint hazards are harmful to adults, particularly pregnant women, and children.
To protect against health risks, EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule is designed to minimize exposure to lead-based paint hazards. Under this rule, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb paint surfaces in homes and child-occupied facilities (including day care centers and schools), built before 1978, must, among other things, be certified and follow lead-safe work practices.
To ensure that property owners and occupants are able to act quickly to preserve their homes and property in the wake of disasters, the RRP Rule includes an emergency exemption.
IMPORTANT NOTICE TO HOMEOWNERS
The RRP Rule does not impose requirements on a homeowner performing work on an owner-occupied residence. However, EPA encourages homeowners to hire certified professionals that have received required training on work practices to prevent lead contamination. Homeowners that choose to perform renovation work themselves should take steps to contain the work area, minimize dust and clean up thoroughly. To learn how to perform renovation work safely, contact the National Lead Information Center, 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).
If you hire a certified contractor to perform renovation work on a residence that you occupy, you should be aware that your hired professional must observe the requirements of the RRP Rule. However, the rule's emergency exemption does release certified professionals from some of the rule's requirements that they otherwise would be required to follow—but only to the extent necessary to respond to an emergency.
Under the exemption, emergency renovations do not have to follow RRP Rule requirements related to posting warning signs at the renovation site, containment of dust, waste handling, training and certification. The RRP Rule's requirements related to cleaning, cleaning verification, and recordkeeping are not exempt. For complete information about the RRP Rule and its requirements, go to: www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm#requirements
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Does the RRP Rule apply to contractors working on homes damaged by a natural disaster?
Certain requirements of the RRP Rule do not apply to emergency renovations, which are renovation activities that were not planned but result from a sudden, unexpected event that, if not immediately attended to, presents a safety or public health hazard, or threatens equipment and/or property with significant damage.
The information distribution requirements of the RRP Rule do not apply to emergency renovations. Weather-based emergency renovations are also exempt from the warning sign, containment, waste handling, training, and certification requirements to the extent necessary to respond to the emergency. Emergency renovations are not exempt from the RRP Rule's cleaning requirements, cleaning verification requirements, or recordkeeping requirements. Under the emergency provision of the RRP Rule, individuals may perform activities that are immediately necessary to protect personal property and public health. These actions may include the removal of surfaces that contain lead-based paint. These actions need not be performed by certified or trained individuals to the extent necessary to alleviate concerns associated with the emergency.
My home has been demolished and is being rebuilt. Does the RRP Rule apply?
The RRP Rule does not apply to the construction of new buildings. As such, the RRP Rule does not apply to a project that demolishes and rebuilds a structure to a point where it is effectively new construction. Thus, in pre-1978 homes (single-family, single-level homes) where all interior and exterior painted surfaces (including windows) are removed and replaced, the provisions of the RRP Rule would not apply.
What steps should homeowners take to protect themselves and their families from exposure to lead dust if they plan on doing their own renovations?
- Contain the work area so that dust does not escape from the area. Cover floors and furniture that cannot be moved with heavy duty plastic and tape, and seal off doors and heating and cooling system vents;
- Keep children, pregnant women, and pets out of the work area at all times;
- Minimize dust during the project by using techniques that generate less dust, such as wet sanding or scraping, or using sanders or grinders that have HEPA vacuum attachments which capture the dust that is generated; and
- Clean up thoroughly by using a HEPA vacuum and wet wiping to clean up dust and debris on surfaces. Mop floors with plenty of rinse water before removing plastic from doors, windows, and vents.
How do I find a list of certified renovation firms in my area?
To search an online directory of certified renovation firms, go to www.epa.gov/getleadsafe. You can also contact the National Lead Information Center, 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).
What if I have a question about the RRP Rule that is not answered in this fact sheet?
Call 1-800-848-4568 and ask to speak with someone in EPA Region 7's Lead Based Paint Program.