New Rule to Protect Young from Lead-based Paint Hazards

Housing repair and renovation workers will have to follow lead-safe work practice standards to reduce potential exposure to lead when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalizes its latest rule for lead-based paint.

"While there has been a dramatic decrease over the last two decades in the number of children affected by lead-poisoning, EPA is continuing its efforts to take on this preventable disease," said James Gulliford, EPA's assistant administrator for Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "Today's new rules will require contractors to be trained and to follow simple but effective lead-safe work practices to protect children from dangerous levels of lead," Gulliford said on March 31.

The "Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Program" rule, which will take effect in April 2010, prohibits work practices creating lead hazards. Requirements under the rule include implementing lead-safe work practices and certification and training for paid contractors and maintenance professionals working in pre-1978 housing, child-care facilities, and schools. To foster adoption of the new measures, EPA will conduct an extensive education and outreach campaign.

The rule covers all rental housing and non-rental homes where children under six and pregnant mothers reside. The new requirements apply to renovation, repair, or painting activities where more than six square feet of lead-based paint is disturbed in a room or where 20 square feet of lead-based paint is disturbed on the exterior. The affected contractors include builders, painters, plumbers, and electricians. Trained contractors must post warning signs, restrict occupants from work areas, contain work areas to prevent dust and debris from spreading, conduct a thorough cleanup, and verify that cleanup was effective.

Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in paint and was banned for residential use in 1978. Exposure to lead can result in health concerns for both children and adults.

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