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New EPA lead regulations burden to rehabbers

If you are a contractor, rehabber or landlord of a property that was built before 1978, your job got a lot more expensive on April 22, 2010. That is when the new Environment Protection Agency (EPA) lead paint rules went into affect. Under these new rules any contractor doing work such as cutting, sanding or demolition, which will disturb lead paint, must now be certified by the EPA to do so. This requirement includes landlords doing their own work, but exempts people working on their own home.

If you are doing this kind of work without gaining certification and following EPA procedures, you are technically breaking the law. To gain this certification you will have to take an 8-hour course on lead abatement and pay a certification fee. This fee varies, depending on your exact situation, but for most people it will be $550. You will also have to be re-certified every five years by taking a 4-hour refresher course and pay the fee again. To make matters worse, you will also be legally required to use protective gear and clothing while doing any work. If you are a professional contracting firm you must also make sure your employees are certified as well.

There is no doubt that many contractors and property owners are going to simply ignore this new law (it hasn’t been publicized much), but it seems that the feds have thought ahead about that. They have instituted a fine system which can charge violators up to $37,500 a day for not following the rules. Most small-time operators would probably not see such large fines, but the EPA is certainly taking a punitive approach to this new rule.

To put it mildly, these new rules are placing an additional burden on an already strained industry. As such, the full enforcement of these rules will probably take some time to roll out. In cases where the ren0vation work is happening in vacant homes and apartments, enforcement might never be that strict. But with occupied properties, especially those with children, you will eventually get busted if you continually ignore this new lead-protocol. Regardless, if you do this kind of work, it would probably be best to start figuring out how to get certified.

For more on the new rule check out the official EPA webpage on lead-safe certified firms. Or check out the list of EPA-certified training outlets in Missouri.

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