Updated 04/17/2010 10:52 AM
New EPA lead-based paint rules could cost contractors
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Come Thursday, contractors who perform projects that disturb more than 6 feet of lead-based paint will have to train up or pay up.
Under the new federal law, those who renovate, repair or paint certain buildings built prior to 1978 will have to be certified to do so.
This new law is part of a rule the Environmental Protection Agency issued in April 2008, which required contractors to use lead-safe work practices.
These efforts were in an attempt to prevent lead poisoning in children.
The Heart of Texas Builders Association in Waco offers certification classes.
President Ken Cooper said there has not been a shortage of interest in the certification classes.
The classes are held through the Heart of Texas Builders Association
Phone: (254) 776-8701
Cost for the class is $190 for association members
To learn more about other classes in your area click here.
"We've had a pretty good response," Cooper said. "We had one class already to get certification, and it was a full class."
To become a certified renovator, the EPA requires individuals to take eight hours of training.
The certification is good for five years.
EPA statistics show more than 5,600 courses have been offered as of April 12, with an estimated 129,000 renovators trained so far.
Cooper said he has seen many different contractors come through his doors for training.
"If someone goes in and removes cabinets, and has to redo the cabinetry or kitchen, it may be an inside or outside job," he said. "Really it's not exclusive to either one."
Waco Habitat for Humanity Executive Director John Alexander was one of those participants.
"The training is important. It's not something that is easy to do to follow the regulations," Alexander said. "You need to know what you're doing."
Even though Alexander said the new rules do not immediately affect the Waco office of Habitat for Humanity, because they build new homes.
However he was interested in learning how the rules would apply to work they may do in the future.
"We're looking at other repair work, home painting and other kind of work. So I wanted to know how that does affect us as an organization that uses primarily volunteers," he said.
Alexander said the new rules would make it difficult for nonprofit organizations, like his, to take on repair projects of older homes.
"Each worker needs to be trained. So, if we have a group of volunteers that come out for half a day and we need to spend an hour training them, that makes it pretty inefficient," he said.
But he understands the importance of the training and following the rules.
The Environmental Protection agency has put together a resource with facts and information about lead and the dangers of lead-based paint. To read more about it click here.
"We want to of course follow the rules, and just because somebody's a volunteer [that] does not mean that they're not required to follow the safe practices of working with lead-based paint."
However, safety purposes are not the only incentive to follow the rules.
"The reality for contractors, whether they be for profit or nonprofit, is that the fines for not following the rules are substantial," Alexander said.
According to the EPA, those who do not follow the rules can be forced to pay tens and thousands of dollars.
With these stricter rules and regulations in place, it may become a challenge to help those who may be in need of the most help.
"The new regulations will make it more difficult for low income home owners who own older homes to do the needed repairs on their house," Alexander said. "It will make it more difficult for nonprofit organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, that want to help those low income homeowners."
Homeowners who want to make improvements on their own homes are exempt from these new rules.