Are your Contractors Lead Safe Certified?

22 Replies

Just an FYI to those investors that either hire contractors for the repairs, renovations, painting, etc. OR Do It Themselves - the Federal RRP Lead Safe Certification Law that was passed a little over a year ago, is now strongly being enforced by the EPA. It is wise for investors & contractors of every type to educate themselves as to whether they need certification before the visit or call from the EPA. If in doubt, you can check out www.epa.gov or [LINK REMOVED] .

I'm not sure about "...strongly being enforced by the EPA." I have yet to see or hear anyone getting a fine, but then again virtually all the properties in the LLC I manage were built post 1978, so LBP is not on my mind.

When I took the RRP class a year ago, I was the only investor. 80%+ of the other students were contractors with Lowes Home Improvement business. Apparently Lowes requires all contractors be RRP certified. So the short answer to the topic question is... possibly. But anyone owning a pre 1978 built house should check for lead, IMO.

As an Accredited EPA RRP Training Provider, we receive updates from the EPA on the ruling. I believe the most recent fines were issued in Maine, somewhere around the $150k range. Also have info on this one:
Enforcement Action

Window World of St. Louis, Inc. has agreed to pay $39,577 in fines & replacement penalties. A $19,529 EPA fine, plus $20,048 to cover the cost of replacing the old windows with lead.

Locally, we were told last week about a pending matter for exterior paint removal without proper certification or safety measures.

Here is the link for the EPA published guide explaining the rule: http://epa.gov/lead/pubs/sbcomplianceguide.pdf

Our understanding is that the EPA has spent the last year just catching up, and we are scheduled to be at a conference where the EPA will outline their plans to enforce compliance & educate the consumer to more adequately ensure compliance. According to them, they intend to make certain that the law is complied with, or penalties will apply.

As was mentioned by someone else on this forum a while ago, if you have a pre-1978 house that was built in the '70s (so it still probably doesn't have lead), you can take some paint chip samples and have them tested by an EPA-certified lab. If it comes back negative for lead you don't have to follow any of the new rules, as I understand.

In our class, we used a LeadCheck(TM) product that is now available in big box home improvement stores. At the time it was the only EPA recognized LBP diagnostic product. This product wasn't readily available when I took the RRP class. In about 30 seconds, I can assess the LBP risk of a window sill, frame, or painted door. I like the ease of use and instant results and this product allows me to make offers with no delays which is the best part of all. Needless to say, I carry this product in my van... and it's ready to go to work in an instant.

I agree, an excellent product for quick testing, however lately we have noticed about 20% of the container to be defective. Guess QC isn't what it used to be.

But as long as the package has a test card (to confirm that that lack of color change is truly showing "no LBP found"), at least you have a valid test.

I thought that the EPA does not recognize those test kits for use on certain surfaces, and that chips would have to sent to a testing lab for those surfaces ...

Plus you now will have to disclose all test results - especially any surfaces that tested positive for LBP - to future tenants / buyers ...

I have not seen the RRP rule being strongly enforced yet nor have I heard of it being strongly enforced. I have heard of cases where people were fined though. Really though what is your motive? Your 2 posts I have seen are about the RRP rules and you have a link in your sig for a website selling RRP compliance supplies...

@Steve, I'm not aware of "surface" restrictions for the LeadCheck product... but their website talks about "solid surfaces". In the RRP class they stressed recognized vs. certified. These are not EPA certified products but that doesn't take away anything from the viability of the test. And yes, use the test card to verify the test. Are you sure about disclosure part? That's news to me (must be new in the last 11 months or so).

@Michael, about "...what is your motive..." I think it's pretty clear.

Motive of the Post......just to educate those who are not aware of the law, that the law exists. We are continually surprised to discover that there are many investors, property managers & contractors that have yet to even hear of the law. Obviously it does not apply to everyone, but for those who it does apply to, they should at least be made aware of it.

As for our site, we DO NOT SELL SUPPLIES, we are an accredited RRP Training Provider. Hope that helps.

rob, no doubt that it's great to follow the law...but it seems you're just trying to scare people into paying for the training, which you provide....sorry if i misread..

Originally posted by Chris Martin:
@Steve, I'm not aware of "surface" restrictions for the LeadCheck product... but their website talks about "solid surfaces". In the RRP class they stressed recognized vs. certified. These are not EPA certified products but that doesn't take away anything from the viability of the test. And yes, use the test card to verify the test. ...

Here's the scoop on the test kits - LeadCheck® is for use on wood or ferrous surfaces; D-Lead® can be used on wood and ferrous PLUS plaster and drywall surfaces:
http://epa.gov/lead/pubs/testkit.htm

I have no affiliation with this next site; it has a list of various items for use by RRP contractors, along with prices:

http://www.check4lead.com/

Bryan, sorry if it came across that way. We provide the training locally in Philadelphia, however the law covers the entire nation, in addition to some states adopting and enforcing their own laws. So we can not train everyone. However, forums such as this ARE ready by people from everywhere, so they can be informed & do their own due diligence as to whether the law applies to their business or not, and if so, seek out a local training provider from the EPA site.

The EPA has said that they are making efforts to educate the public (and those who need to comply to the law) about the existence of the law, however they also pass that task onto the training providers.

I am a contractor as well, and when I took my training last year, I was surprised how many contractors, like myself, did not know about the law, so I took the steps to help train & certify those that may need it. I do not enforce, just inform & train.

Once again, sorry if I scared anyone, but it was another contractor that first made me aware of the law, and why should I not do the same in return?

Originally posted by Bryan A.:
rob, no doubt that it's great to follow the law...but it seems you're just trying to scare people into paying for the training, which you provide....sorry if i misread..

Bryan,

The training is available at lots of different places (Rob is very close to where I live, but I was trained elsewhere), and prices are anywhere from $150 to $250 at most of those places. So the $200 median isn't a big deal compared to the fines that have been issued already; all you need is one environmental activist to report you to end up paying dearly in fines.

My main issue with this is the burdens that go with performing work in a compliant manner. Including the set-up, clean-up and paperwork / record keeping.

Originally posted by Steve Babiak:
Originally posted by Chris Martin:
... Are you sure about disclosure part? That's news to me (must be new in the last 11 months or so).

...

Not new at all. See link:
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/healthy_homes/enforcement/disclosure

Indeed, I am aware of this. The key word is hazards, not hte testing per-se. Presence of LBP is fine... even when renting section-8. It's the hazard of flaking or peeling LBP that is the issue. Our PM hands out the EPA LBP flier for all pre-1978 built houses regardless if LBP is there or not. S-8 will inspect for LBP hazards and if a hazard is found, the property fails inspection.

Originally posted by Steve Babiak:
Originally posted by Chris Martin:
@Steve, I'm not aware of "surface" restrictions for the LeadCheck product... but their website talks about "solid surfaces". In the RRP class they stressed recognized vs. certified. These are not EPA certified products but that doesn't take away anything from the viability of the test. And yes, use the test card to verify the test. ...

Here's the scoop on the test kits - LeadCheck® is for use on wood or ferrous surfaces; D-Lead® can be used on wood and ferrous PLUS plaster and drywall surfaces:
http://epa.gov/lead/pubs/testkit.htm

I have no affiliation with this next site; it has a list of various items for use by RRP contractors, along with prices:

http://www.check4lead.com/

Thanks Steve. This is good to know. When I took the RRP class there was only one vendor (LeadCheck) which I see is now a 3M company. I'm pretty sure they were not a 3M company a year ago. They had real production issues and getting the product took several weeks.

There is also a soil test kit... they didn't address this in RRP, but probably do in the remediation class. I haven't taken that.

Regarding the post "motivation" part... I am still surprised at how few trades people and investors are aware of the EPA rules/law. As I pointed out in my first post, I was the only investor/rehabber in the class. Apparently (per the course instructor) I was the first. At that time Lowes has just mandated RRP for all contractors. So, Rob, I don't take offense at the post (or the plug) since BP is all about making investors better and more aware of the business. That's why I replied....

Originally posted by Chris Martin:
Originally posted by Steve Babiak:
Originally posted by Chris Martin:
... Are you sure about disclosure part? That's news to me (must be new in the last 11 months or so).

...

Not new at all. See link:
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/healthy_homes/enforcement/disclosure

Indeed, I am aware of this. The key word is hazards, not hte testing per-se. Presence of LBP is fine... even when renting section-8. It's the hazard of flaking or peeling LBP that is the issue. Our PM hands out the EPA LBP flier for all pre-1978 built houses regardless if LBP is there or not. S-8 will inspect for LBP hazards and if a hazard is found, the property fails inspection.

Not just hazards, based on my reading of this next excerpt from that link:

Originally posted by HUD portal, second bullet point:
Disclose any known information concerning lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards. The seller or landlord must also disclose information such as the location of the lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards, and the condition of the painted surfaces.

Notice it uses "lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards" - which I read as saying you must disclose the surfaces that have tested positive for lead based paint.

I believe what we do (I don't do the leases, so not 100% sure) is say assume all painted surfaces have lead paint. All the information is contained in the booklets. LBP hazards are peeling painted surfaces, moving painted parts (e.g. windows and doors). Of the few pre-1978 properties we have, a total of 0 have these hazards. If LBP was the real issue, then there would be 3 or 4 million abatement projects going on. Similar to asbestos, if the product (LBP) is contained (or the word I've heard is 'encapsulated') there is not an imminent hazard. All this is detailed in the class... when you disrupt the product, just handle it correctly (RRP process) when conditions warrant.

Chris,

Sounds like you are following the disclosures that are required, along with giving the brochure(s). The only difference would be once you have test results that are positive for the presence of LBP; your disclosures would then have to become more specific, identifying the surfaces where the LBP was discovered. I agree with your definition of hazards, but the HUD wording I posted earlier does not limit this to just hazards; read that as you see fit if you don't agree with how I have interpreted that wording.

As to those who believe that Rob started this with a specific agenda in mind - well, maybe that is true. But in the end, you will be better informed as a result, since several RRP certified folks have chimed in with their $0.02 worth (actually more like $200 worth from training expenses, but who's counting :D ). Here is a link where somebody is keeping tabs on the RRP fines and what led to the fines; you might find this to be a bit enlightening:
http://leadpaintprofessor.com/2011/06/epa-lead-rrp-rule-enforcement-is-affecting-contractors-nationally-a-chronological-list-of-fines/

Yeah, that site is selling RRP stuff too, so maybe they have an agenda in mind as well ...

But the next link is not selling anything for RRP, and the comments in this link should be read (bottom up for chronological ordering):
http://www.remodeling.hw.net/lead-safe-practices/epa-updates-lead-paint-rule.aspx

?
As I said, "assume all painted surfaces have lead paint." It's assuming the worst case LBP scenario where everything has LBP. That doesn't mean they are hazards. Obviously we make sure we address paint issues proactively for pre-1978 property. It's actually not that hard a problem to manage. Just pay attention to exterior painted surfaces.....

I am being audited by EPA right now and looking for a lawyer that understands this LBP rules... IT DOES HAPPEN PEOPLE... I rehab homes maybe 2-3 a year on average...I'm sure that its going to be a long road ahead!