Lead-Safe Renovation & Abatement
Why Lead Paint Is Dangerous
Lead poisoning can cause physical, behavioral, and intellectual problems in kids and health problems in adults. Even a small job can become a problem when done in a structure built before 1978. If an area the size of a business card was covered in lead dust from a renovation project, it would be enough to poison a 1500 sqft house or apartment.
While lead poisoning hasn't gone away, it is entirely preventable through safe Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP). See below for helpful information.
How to Choose a Contractor for Safe Work Done on My Home
Contractors include electricians, HVAC specialists, plumbers, painters, maintenance staff, or anybody who could disturb lead paint. You can choose somebody to do safe renovations, repairs, and painting by taking the following steps:
- Ask if he or she is EPA Lead-Safe Certified. Ask to see their certificate.
- Have the contractor clearly explain the details of the job and how they will minimize lead hazards.
- Confirm firm certification or search for a certified renovation company.
What to Know as a Contractor
As regulated by the EPA, contractors who do renovations, repairs, and painting need to:
- Be trained and certified as a RRP renovator
- Use lead-safe work practices
- Keep required records
- Make required disclosures
- Know that there is a potential $37,500 penalty per violation
- Have your firm certified as an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Firm
For more information, visit the EPA Get Lead Safe page or call 800-424-5323 (LEAD).
How to Safely Renovate, Repair, and Paint by Yourself
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, take the following steps to work safely in pre-1978 dwellings:
- Minimize the dust
- Do not sand old paint
- Use a misting bottle as you scrape
- Do not use heat guns or power tools with HEPA exhaust to collect dust. Use containment to prevent dust from leaving the work area
- Clean thoroughly following painting preparation and painting. Do not use a broom or vacuum cleaner for cleanup
- Protect yourself and your family
- Wear protective clothing if dust is present (mask, disposable coveralls, etc.)
- Wash hands and face before eating and at the end of the day
- Remember that disturbing surfaces with lead-based paint creates dust which can endanger your family
See the EPA Get Lead Safe page for more information on safe work practices. You can also follow the steps outlined in the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program: Do-It-Yourselfers webpage and in the Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair, and Painting Booklet (PDF).
If the main purpose of your project is to make your house lead-safe, and not just as part of an overall renovation project, then you should use a licensed lead abatement firm. You can search for a contractor at the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) search for a licensed lead contractor or worker to verify their license, status, complaint history, and more.
Once you have chosen a lead contractor or individual, the next step is developing a contract for the scope of services. Specify the detailed nature of the work in the contract and make sure you note that the purpose of the project is to permanently remove lead paint hazards or to abate lead-based paint: specifying this will protect you in the case of any legal problems.
Before beginning the project, you must give written notification to the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) on their department form as required by Virginia regulation (16 VAC 25-35-10). There is no fee for residential properties and emergency notifications are available: you can find the DOLI lead notification form.