Lead is a very toxic metal that can be found in all parts of our environment. If ingested or inhaled, it can cause serious neurological and physiological disorders. Even trace amounts of lead found in children can lead to behavioral/learning problems including: learning difficulties, developmental delay, hearing loss, seizures, and in extremely rare cases, coma and death.
Before it was banned in U.S. households and buildings in 1978, HUD estimates that lead paint was used in more than 38 million homes. Although it is still present in millions of homes under layers of newer paint, it is not usually a problem. However, deteriorating or chipping lead–based paint is considered a hazard and requires immediate attention. When a building that contains lead–based paint calls upon renovation, property managers and contractors must be well aware that the paint can form a toxic dust that is extremely harmful to its occupants. In order to minimize exposure during restoration, in 2008, the EPA passed the “Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule” commonly known as the RRP rule.
In addition to that, the occupational health and safety administration had a regulation that specifically pertains to training and precautions that need to be taken when disturbing lead–based paint.
There are several things every property manager needs to know about lead–based paint:
The RRP rule was created to minimize exposure from lead–based paint during renovation, repair, or painting activities. The rule states that renovators must be EPA-certified and trained in the use of lead-safe work practices. The rule currently only applies to residential housing built before 1978 and “child-occupied facilities” which may include child care centers and hospitals.
The RRP rule pertains mainly to housing, however if a commercial building contains a facility that is “child-occupied” the rule applies and OSHA regulations must be met in all cases. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a “child-occupied facility” means a building, or a portion of a building, constructed prior to 1978 that is regularly visited by the child (under 6 years of age), at least twice a week with visits lasting at least 3 hours each with combined visits lasting at least 6 hours per week and 60 hours annually. These buildings can include but are not limited to: daycare centers, preschools, kindergarten classrooms, and healthcare offices that serve young children. If a commercial building does not contain a child facility the RRP rule doesn’t relate. However, OSHA requires that owners and contractors exercise precautions in order to not disturb the lead-contained paint.
The Environmental Protection Agency does not take RRP enforcement lightly. According to the EPA’s website, seventy-five settlements were filed from October 2014 through September 2015 for renovations that were performed on pre-1978 homes and child-care facilities that failed to comply with RRP regulations to EPA. In most cases, those that failed to comply paid civil penalties to resolve the violations. The violations cited reflect the EPA’s goal to reduce the practice of illegal and unsafe renovations. In order to comply with the EPA’s rules and regulations, you must become a lead-safe firm or hire a lead-safe firm to do any renovations. Whether it applies to your building or not, it is good to know if and where your building contains lead. By becoming knowledgeable of hazardous areas in your building, you as the property owner will have the ability to properly handle the repairs on such areas and avoid citations due to violations.