The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week it expects more than 125,000 renovation and remodeling contractors to be trained in lead-safe work practices by April 22, 2010—the effective date for a rule requiring such training. The agency stated it is on target to implement the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, which aims to protect children from lead poisoning.
“There has been tremendous progress by people working in the construction and remodeling trades to become trained in lead-safe work practices,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. “EPA has been working hard to get the word out far and wide to contractors working in older homes, schools, and day care centers that this training is available to help stop lead poisoning in children. All a contractor needs to do to be certified is take a simple one-day course.”
Despite nearly 30 years of effort to reduce childhood lead exposures, a million American children are still poisoned by lead paint each year, putting them at risk for a wide range of health impacts, including lowered IQ and behavioral disorders. Some of that poisoning is a result of dust contaminated by old lead paint that is stirred up during remodeling activities. There are simple steps contractors can take during such renovations to minimize exposures to lead paint.
To ensure contractors were following such procedures, the EPA finalized the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP) rule in 2008. The rule requires contractors to become trained and certified as lead-safe by EPA. Individuals take an eight-hour training course offered by private training providers to become a certified renovator. The certification is valid for five years.
To date, EPA has certified 190 training providers who have conducted more than 4,900 courses. An estimated 100,000 people in the construction and remodeling industries have been trained in lead-safe work practices. Based on current estimates, EPA expects more than 125,000 contractors to be certified by the April 22 deadline. EPA has a number of efforts under way to expedite the training and certification process. Included are a print and radio campaign to highlight the benefits of hiring lead-safe certified firms. As a result, it is expected that training capacity will continue to increase significantly as the April 22 deadline approaches. It is likely that many more contractors and renovators will seek and obtain training after the deadline.