Des Plaines, Ill., October 23, 2012—New survey results of NARI remodelers in June 2012 reveal a continued lack of homeowner awareness of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) Rule, which requires certification and lead-safe work practices for any renovation, repair or painting projects that disturbs more than 6 square inches in homes and child care facilities built prior to 1978.
The recent LRRP data shows 74 percent of remodelers placed homeowners awareness levels of RRP and its requirements at either no awareness or poor awareness levels. In addition, 86 percent of remodelers reported no change of LRRP awareness in the past six months.
“The lack of homeowner awareness is very concerning to NARI members—more than two years after the rule went into effect—especially due to the health implications of lead exposure and the widespread presence of lead hazards in the current housing stock,” says NARI National President Dean Herriges, MCR, CKBR, of Urban Herriges & Sons, based in Mukwonago, Wis.
The LRRP rule is designed to protect pregnant women and children under 6 from toxic lead exposure by requiring contractors to complete an eight-hour training course outlining lead-safe work practices that contain and minimize lead dust. Those who complete the course must supervise the renovation of pre-1978 homes, and the contracting firm must be a certified firm with the EPA.
NARI is concerned that lack of awareness of LRRP is putting the public at higher risk for lead exposure.
Despite the lack of general awareness comes a few moments triumph for many NARI members who have helped protect families—one project at a time.
Vance Dato, president of D&D Services Remodeling Specialist, based in Irving, Texas, is one remodeler who believes he changed his client’s life by bringing LRRP to light. In October 2011, the Dallas area was pounded with astounding data: More than 40,000 children under the age of 6 in a four-county area had a blood lead level of at least 2—well over the 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood limit.
Dato’s client, a doctor in his 40s, had just been released from a two-week hospital stay when he called.
“The client was experiencing chest pain and asthmatic attacks and was in the midst of a 4- to 6-week medical leave from an unknown cause,” Dato says. “A perfectly healthy person in his prime suddenly was very sick.”
As Dato soon realized, the client’s bathroom remodel turned out to be much more than a makeover. “The home was pre-1978, so we were automatically going to follow the LRRP rules, but we decided to test also for the safety of my employees,” Dato says.
After inspection, an additional mold problem combined with his client’s health issues, sent Dato’s project into high gear. The moisture problems fueling the mold growth also impacted the lead issue. Warping and deterioration of the room caused lead paint to chip off into small pieces throughout. Both issues resulted in Dato recommending abatement.
“I had completed the lead abatement course the week before, and I knew under this circumstance we needed to remove everything,” he says.
The lead abatement process removed everything from the bathroom down to the studs. While removal was conducted, the entire area was sealed in complete isolation from the rest of the home. High-powered HEPA vacuums and a special bagging technique allowed items from the bathroom to be removed safely and picked up by the hazard chemical waste truck.
Dato says the three-week project has completely turned his client’s life around. “His health has improved, and he is back to work.”
Though the rule was largely designed to protect children under 6 years of age and pregnant women, lead exposure can affect everyone, especially over the long term. Dato says his first line of defense against lead is to ask clients about the age of their homes and if they have noticed any health issues. He says educating clients helps them make the right decisions from greater knowledge and respect of their health.