In an effort to protect the public from the dangers associated with lead paint, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) enacted the lead law in 2008 with amendments in 2010 and 2011. The new regulations imposed strict standards for the removal of lead paint and for renovation work performed in an environment where lead paint may be present.
Massachusetts is one of 14 states with its own state lead law titled Deleading and Lead-safe Renovation (“LSR”) Regulations, 454 CMR 22.00that supersedes the EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (“RRP”). In comparing the two, most RRP and LSR requirements for performing renovation work in pre-1978 homes are the same. But, Massachusetts law differs in that the Massachusetts LSR Regulations require 1) that workers be trained in lead-safe renovation practices, and 2) that the Lead Safe Renovator provide a certified Supervisor onsite at all times while work is being conducted. The Massachusetts law also allows for outside containment of lead paint chips and debris using reusable drop cloths that are cleaned at the end of the day and can be reused, instead of the EPA requirement that plastic sheeting be used to cover the ground and then disposed of at the completion of the work day.
Over time, many homeowners in older homes undertake major renovations where lead-laden surfaces are completely removed and lead paint no longer exists. In several states, reports suggest that after the lead is completely removed and there are documents to back it up, the home is no longer considered target housing. At that point, the lead safe practices for renovation work are no longer required and work practices required by the RRP or LSR do not apply.
Knowing this, we asked Mr. Brian Wong, Chief of Investigations & Enforcement, Asbestos & Lead Program with the MA Department of Labor Standards, for insight about how the lead safe rule is being applied in Massachusetts.
Q: If renovation work has occurred that removes the presence of all lead coatings in accordance with the LSR rule on a pre-1978 dwelling, will subsequent contractors working in that space be subject to the RRP rule?
A: Contractors may opt to avoid the exposure and liability of working in pre-1978 homes that are assumed to contain lead paint, or test positive for the presence of lead paint. In that case, the contractor can ask that the homeowner prepare for the project by first working directly with a licensed Lead-safe Renovation Contractor to remove all the painted surfaces that will be disturbed during the renovation. In some cases, this may be a demolition company or another contractor that has an LSR license and is trained to safely remove lead paint. However, the LSR licensed contractor would need to know what renovations are planned in order to identify what painted surfaces would be disturbed during the planned renovation, so that he can remove those surfaces.
After those surfaces have been addressed, and the cleaning verification test (required for interior work) is completed and passed, LSR regulations allow a contractor to proceed with renovation work without having to comply with the training and licensing requirements, and without having to follow the lead safe work practices. The contractor should ask to see the cleaning verification results and any paint testing results to verify that the surfaces are clean and lead free and maintain copies to document due diligence in demonstrating why the LSR requirements are no longer required.
Q: For contractors working with homeowners to have the lead paint removed prior to beginning their remodeling project, are there any processes/procedures to keep in mind?
A: If a contractor is working with a homeowner to have all painted surfaces removed before he/she begins his/her work, a renovation contractor first needs to identify all areas of painted surfaces that will need to be addressed before work begins. Then the LSR Contractor knows what painted surfaces need to be addressed, and follow all the work practice requirements of the LSR Regulations, including the cleaning verification procedures at the end of the work. Once that passes, the LSR work is complete.
The renovation contractor, before beginning his work, should then check the site to ensure all areas where he would have disturbed a painted surface are clear of lead paint, that the work was done by a LSR licensed contractor, and ask to see the clearance verification results and any test results demonstrating the paint remaining is not lead paint.
If a lead inspection has been done, the LSR contractor, the renovation contractor, and the homeowner should be aware that a lead inspection report addresses only accessible surfaces for inspection, and if a property has been “Deleaded”, that does not mean that all lead paint has been eliminated from the house. Having a property deleaded means that the lead painted surfaces have been scraped, removed, encapsulated or made intact and no longer pose a hazard. Renovation work that you perform could impact those lead painted surfaces and cause them to become a hazard, unless done properly.
Some surfaces coated with lead paint may be inaccessible initially but may be impacted as part of a renovation activity. For example, uncovering a previously inaccessible horsehair plaster painted wall covered by wood paneling may trigger LSR requirements during demolition. At that point, work must stop and an LSR trained and licensed contractor must return to remove that painted surface. A savvy contractor during his walkthrough should identify to the homeowner where his work will impact a painted surface and anticipate where painted surfaces may be hidden. Then, before he begins his work, verify that the painted surfaces have been removed, or gather records that the painted surfaces do not contain a hazardous level of lead.
Q: Upon removal of the lead paint, and testing, is the contractor free to proceed with the project without being subject to the RRP rule?
A: Yes, however, the contractor should ask to see the test results and keep a copy to show that any painted surfaces where properly addressed during the LSR work.
Q: Are there other important factors for remodelers to consider when working on pre-1978 target housing?
A: While there has been much written and discussed about the EPA’s RRP and the Massachusetts Lead-safe Renovation rule, at its core, the regulations are intended to protect homeowners, workers and occupants from exposure to dangerous lead paint dust caused by the renovation activity. If paint is present on impacted surfaces, it is assumed to contain lead, and the use of lead safe work practices by a currently trained, certified LSR Supervisor and licensed LSR contractor must be followed. After the lead paint is removed and the work area has tested clean, the contractor can continue the renovation work. Any dust, not just lead paint dust, is an irritant to the lungs and bad to breathe in, and DLS hopes that by working lead-safe, and cleaning up properly, workers will use these methods wherever they work, and be healthier as a result.September 2nd, 2015Government Affairs CommitteeEastern Mass. Chapter, NARI