Lead Abatement: Practices for Contractors

June 16, 2008

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By 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require all painting and coating contractors who perform renovation work on pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools to have EPA abatement certification and to follow work practices that will reduce the risk of lead contamination for everyone.

For painting contractors who are doing abatement work, the EPA’s list of suggested practices should be very familiar. Here is a short version of work practices to follow when working in homes built before 1978.

§ Run through your painting practices with the residents before starting the project. Let them know what you are doing and why. The EPA has a pamphlet, Renovate Right, which you should provide to the residents or the facility manager.

§ Contain the work area. Remove furniture and other belongings from the project space if possible. Seal everything in heavy plastic bags or sheeting. This includes floors, door openings and air vents.

§ Limit entry into the work area to trained workers only. Post signs to warn others away from the project space.

§ Reduce dust. Choose work methods that create as little dust as possible. Also avoid using open flame around lead-based paint.

§ Clean the work area on a daily basis. Bag up trash in heavy plastic bags, and HEPA vacuum the area.

§ Change out of work clothes and wash up before going home.

Following these practices will reduce the risk of lead exposure, and get the job done right. Coming up tomorrow: Lead Abatement Certification.

Adapted from the EPA’s lead safety brochure for contractors: http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/contractor_brochure.pdf

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