Tuesday, February 2, 2010

REMODELING & SAFETY: New deleading rules seen raising renovation time, costs

New rules for lead paint removal go into effect April 22, adding a bit more time and cost to some home renovations.

The Environmental Protection Agency will require all contractors be certified to take out lead paint. Previously, no certification was required and homeowners could “opt-out’’ of lead-safe practices if no children under 6 years old or pregnant women lived in the house.

The EPA estimates the new rules will add an hour to project cleanup and add just under $100 per job for most renovations. EPA estimates about 38 million homes and apartment units, or 40 percent of the housing stock, contain lead paint.

“It’s more protective for everyone: the residents, their children, and the workers,’’ said Maria Doa, the EPA’s director of national program chemicals division.

Lead paint is toxic for young children and can cause brain damage; behavioral, learning, and growth problems; hearing difficulties; and headaches. Adults aren’t immune either. They can suffer from reproductive problems, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, muscle pain, and memory problems.

The remodeling industry, however, said the EPA’s cost estimates are too low. Members of the National Association of Home Builders have estimated the cost will climb between $500 and $1,500 on larger jobs because it could extend each day’s cleanup by hours.

Remodelers fear the changes could slow the industry’s recovery and derail some homeowners’ plans to make energy efficient improvements.

Kermit Baker, a remodeling expert at the Joint Center, questioned how effectively the EPA can enforce the new rules.

“This is an incredibly fragmented industry. There’s not a lot of licensing and certification to begin with,’’ Baker said.

And contractor certification for the new rules has gotten off to a slow start.

Only a few thousand remodeling professionals have been certified out of about 200,000 nationwide, the EPA said. There are only 120 EPA-approved trainers across the country, and four states - Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming - don’t have any.

Associated Pres January 24, 2010

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