EPA Urges Caution on Tornado Renovation Activities Involving Lead Paint

June 24th, 2011 by DWM Magazine

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 7 office has issued a warning to those working on the post-tornado recovery effort in the Joplin, Mo., area to beware of lead paint issues.

“As the Joplin, Mo., area continues to recover from the May 22 tornado, EPA Region 7 recommends children and pregnant women keep away from work that could disturb lead-based paint,” writes the EPA’s Region 7. “The agency also urges persons working on construction surfaces that may contain lead-based paint to take precautions to prevent the spread of lead-contaminated dust, which is the most significant source of lead exposure for children.”

The advisory further includes a reminder about the federal Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, which requires that contractors, property managers and others working for compensation, in homes and child-occupied facilities built before 1978, to be trained and use lead-safe work practices. The regulations also require that they provide a copy of the brochure, “Renovate Right; Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools,” to owners and occupants before starting renovation work.

In addition, EPA points out that because of the nature of the recovery work going on in Joplin, certain emergency provisions of the RRP Rule may apply. Work covered under the rule’s provision for storm-damaged housing does not require advance notice or trained renovators to remove materials, including debris, from damaged homes. Also, emergency renovation activities are exempt from the rule’s warning sign, containment, waste-handling, training, and certification requirements – but only to the extent necessary to respond to the emergency. Cleaning, cleaning verification and recordkeeping requirements still apply to emergency renovations

Volunteers who do not receive compensation for work are not required to be trained and certified, under the rule, according to EPA. However, EPA recommends that volunteers educate themselves about lead-safe work practices to avoid causing health or safety hazards for themselves or others.

EPA Region 7 has prepared a fact sheet to help answer questions about the RRP Rule and the emergency exemptions.

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