Lead Paint Testing and RRP Certification

Renovation, Repair, or Painting of Homes Built Prior to 1978 are required to first undergo Lead Paint Testing and use RRP Certified Contractors if Paint Surfaces are to be Disturbed

By Mark J. Donovan

Older homes offer historic charm, classic looks, and unique attributes often not typically found with new home construction. However with older homes comes increased care and responsibility when it comes to renovating, repairing and painting them. In particular, any home built prior to 1978 may have lead paint in, on, or around it.

As a matter of fact, 69% of homes built between 1940 and 1960 are likely to contain lead. As a result, federal law requires contractors that are expected to disturb painted surfaces on homes built prior to 1978 to first undergo renovation, repair, and painting certification (RRP certification).

As part of their RRP certification contractors learn how to conduct lead paint testing, follow specific work practices, and prevent lead contamination while renovating, repairing and painting older homes.

Lead absorbed into the human body, can adversely affect brain and nervous system development, particularly in small children, and lead to learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Lead poisoning is also a concern for adults. Even small amounts of lead ingested by adults can lead to high blood pressure and mental decline.

Lead paint, and particularly lead dust associated with the disturbance or decay of lead based paints in or around the home, is the most common way people are exposed to lead. Consequently it is vitally important to conduct lead paint testing on your home if it was built prior to 1978.

If lead paint testing does confirm that there is lead in or around the home, then only certified lead abatement contractors should be used to eliminate the threat of exposure. In addition, if you have remodeling, repair or painting plans associated with a home built prior to 1978 then make sure to use RRP certified contractors to ensure you do not put you and your family at risk of lead exposure.

When screening potential contractors for a renovation, repair or painting project on a home built prior to 1978 make sure the prospective contractors can provide you with a copy of their RRP certification. In addition, by federal law, each contractor should also provide you with a copy of the EPA’s “The Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right” pamphlet. If they do not, or cannot provide you with this document, then steer clear of them as they are failing one the first steps in proper EPA lead paint certification rules.

As part of the process of renovating, repairing, or painting a home built prior to 1978 an RRP certified contractor will first conduct lead paint testing.

Testing for lead paint.

If lead paint is detected and the work requires disturbing it in any way, the contractor should follow EPA lead paint certification rules that contain the work area and prevent home occupants from entering it while it is disturbed. In addition, the RRP certified contractor should utilize renovation methods that minimize the creation of dangerous lead based dust, and clean the work area daily using special cleaning methods.

Finally, after the renovation, repair or painting work has been completed the contractor should have a lead dust test performed by an independent lead company. The lead dust test samples should be sent to the lead company’s laboratory for analysis and confirmation that the work area is indeed free of lead dust before the occupants of the home are allowed to re-enter the renovated area.

For more information on lead paint testing and RRP certification contact the National Lead Information Center. They can put you in contact with qualified lead testing laboratories and professionals. There are also local businesses, such as Lead-EDU in New Hampshire, that offer Lead Paint Testing Kits and RRP Certification.

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