Posted by: Green Knight | April 15, 2010

Lead Paint for Contractors

A friend tells me that NPR just did a broadcast on the “new” EPA regulations for contractors disturbing lead-based paint or lead-bearing substances while doing work not considered as “abatement.”  This includes things like window replacement, drywall, plumbing or electrical work, or touchup scrape & repainting. “Abatement,” on the other hand, is work that is specifically being done to minimize lead hazards.  I’m working on downloading the podcast today, but i’m told that a contractor who was interviewed was pissing and moaning that this will put them out of business.  Sorry, but that’s a load of CRAP.

First of all, OSHA has had lead standards for construction-worker protection since 1995, yet contractors consistently don’t provide personal protective equipment, ventilation, etc., so they don’t have a right to complain anyway.  Secondly, this “new” regulation is just standardizing what EPA and HUD have  had as “guidelines” since 1995, updated in 1997, and good luck getting a government-funded contract if you don’t comply with the guidelines.  I should stress that OSHA is there to protect workers only.  EPA is there to protect “human health and the environment.”  HUD never has figured out what their mission is, which is why i don’t like dealing with them; they don’t follow their own standards much of the time.  But the point is that there’s a lot of overlap…it may be confusing, but all these standards are there to protect people.  (HUD’s lead mission is to protect kids under 6, or 6 and under, meaning right up until 7; they can’t even agree with themselves on THAT.)

I’ve been teaching this one-day training class for “Lead-Safe Work Practices” for several YEARS, folks.  It is not financially burdensome to send your workers and supervisors through a one-day course that helps protect them and the occupants of the residences.  Sheesh!  And as far as the equipment that needs to be used, the OSHA standard has covered that for fifteen years.  Maybe some of these fly-by-night operations SHOULD be out of business?  All that’s happening here is that EPA is finally formalizing what’s already been on the books, but finally as official regulations.  And almost every state health department has had its own, enforceable regulations which mandate work practices at least as stringent as the federal “guidelines,” for years and years!  And the state programs generally apply to ALL residential (and sometimes commercial or industrial) lead projects, whether receiving Federal funding or not.

And it counts as “abatement” in any case if more than 6 square feet of lead-based paint inside a room in a residence, daycare center, or school, or more than 20 square feet on the exterior, is removed or disturbed, whether it started out as a lead job or not.  If it’s already an abatement job, then over 2 square feet inside a room is regulated.  The main difference now is that “renovators” will have to get a license through EPA (but not the state, at least not in Missouri).  The “might-as-well-be required” training requirements that have been there for years are no different, there are just the Federal license fees to pay now…not a deal-killer, just pass the costs on to the consumer.  Standard contractor procedure anyway.

So this is not really a “new” thing, and those crybabies need to get with the damned program or find some other profession.  ‘Nuff said?



  1. i just posted a couple of responses to a thread about the NPR article. see if you can guess which person i am!

  2. here’s a radio interview about this issue. same show i was on, but i’m not on this one.

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