Sticker Shock: Lead Abatement Costs You Need to Know Now

October 1, 2008

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Does your facility have lead paint? Get ready for the sticker shock now, because lead abatement costs can be a nasty surprise during renovation and renewal projects. Here is a general guide to the costs of lead abatement, including an examination of the factors that make the price tag for lead abatement so high. 

Exacting Regulations Drive Up Costs

Lead abatement costs can quickly mount up. The work is highly regulated, often labor intensive, and requires specialized equipment to perform in accordance with lead abatement regulations. 

The health threats of lead paint are well-documented, and the federal government has set up guidelines for states to use when developing their lead abatement requirements. Most states are very careful when dealing with lead paint and demand care and caution from those who do lead abatement work. Unfortunately, that care drives up the costs of lead abatement.

Most states require basic certification for a worker to perform simple tasks such as paint removal and disposal. For more complicated lead abatement work, costs go up as further certification is required. Developing site plans, conducting testing and managing lead paint waste materials also raise the price of abatement. 

The specialized equipment used in lead abatement work can be very expensive. For example, the HEPA filters used in a commercial grade vacuum to suck up particles of lead contaminated dust can cost $40 or more per filter. Proper disposal also adds to the cost of lead abatement. In addition to the contaminated paint, all of the sheeting materials and sealing materials are treated as lead waste. During lead abatement projects, the workers wear disposable protective gear which adds to the bulk of lead waste. 

In addition to certification and special equipment, many states require a lead abatement contractor to obtain a permit for each abatement-related project. These permits often require a fee, sometimes a flat fee, sometimes a percentage of the total contract.

During the project, air quality must be monitored by an independent testing lab. After the work is completed, the surfaces of the treated area must be checked for lead dust contamination. The careful monitoring of the affected area is necessary to protect the well-being of visitors and workers in a facility. Unfortunately, monitoring and testing also increases lead abatement costs. 

Specialized Work Means High Lead Abatement Costs

The demanding (and expensive) certification procedures, combined with the specialized nature of the work means that most general painting contractors are not certified for lead abatement work. When issues with lead paint arise during a painting project, your painting contractor will have to contact a certified lead abatement removal company and sub-contract the relevant work to them.

If your facility contains lead paint, you should talk with your painting contractor about the costs of lead abatement and begin planning for lead abatement work before it is needed.

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