Complying with Lead Laws
Back in the days before anyone knew better—we’re talking pre-1980—much of the paint used in homes contained lead. Over time, the paint would chip or crumble and the resulting dust caused serious health issues, especially for children and pregnant women.
Lead-based paint was used both inside and outside of homes, most notably on windows, baseboards, trim and doors. Many layers of lead-based paint have been disturbed through the years during remodeling or home repair and it’s necessary for anyone selling a home to be aware of this.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued a report revealing that lead can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems, resulting in reduced intelligence, learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
In a study released by the Department of Health, the agency reported that about 75% of all homes built before 1978 contain some lead-based paint. Furthermore, it’s estimated that more than 38 million homes in the U.S. still contain lead paint.
So, a chief concern of anyone buying or selling a house should be to address the possibility of any lead paint in the home and it’s vital that anyone dealing with paint in older homes treat it as if it is hazardous material.
Real estate agents and their sellers are required to disclose any presence of known lead paint and lead hazards during the sale or rental of housing. The same holds true for renovation and remodeling contractors, who are required to warn customers of the hazards of lead paint.
Last year, the first federal regulation on the remodeling industry was enacted concerning this important hazard.
To ensure that all lead paint is removed safely and effectively, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting” rule governing the work of professional remodelers in homes where there is lead-based paint was published in the Federal Register on Earth Day, April 22, 2010.
The law requires that anyone who is paid to renovate a home that was built before 1978 be trained and/or certified to follow lead paint safety practices. The new rule lists prohibited work practices, including open-torch burning and using high-heat guns and high-speed equipment such as grinders and sanders unless equipped with a HEPA filter. It also requires a cleaning inspection after the work is completed.
For homeowners who are unsure about their homes, sometimes it's easier to replace windows, doors, or woodwork than it is to remove the lead-based paint. This way, all traces of any paint will have been removed from the home.
Agents know that there’s no question that a home is worth more if they can say for certain that it contains no lead paint, so for the peace of mind of everyone involved, deal with all lead paint issues as soon as possible.