Contractors working on homes built prior to 1978 will soon be forced to take extra safety precautions to protect children from the dangers of lead paint, thanks to a new rule set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which will take effect in April 2010.
Approximately 11 million renovations occur annually in U.S. homes built prior to 1978, when lead was banned from household paint. When walls and windows of those homes are sanded, destroyed or drilled, lead dust commonly contaminates the home environment, posing a danger to children. The EPA’s new rule covers all pre-1978 houses, apartments, child-care facilities and schools which are occupied by children under 6, or by pregnant women.
Builders, painters, electricians and other home improvement professionals will have to be trained and certified in lead abatement procedures to comply with the new rule. Sandblasters, torches and all other power tools that stir up lead dust will be banned from lead-contaminated areas, and warning signs must be posted to keep residents out of work areas. Contractors will also have to help contain and clean up dust and debris following construction or remodeling work.
Exposure to lead is especially dangerous to young children, because it damages developing brains, contributing to the development of learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
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