Thursday, February 02, 2006

Get the Lead Out

The Wall Street Journal made brief mention today of new proposed regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency that address contractor work in houses built before 1978 that may involve lead.

It's an interesting read. The Cliff Notes version is that they would like to require contractors to be specifically trained & accredited in lead removal techniques. They would also require certain steps to take place in the process of work that may involve disturbing lead paint.

I suppose we have all seen contractors that know about lead paint and take the (admitedly pretty easy) steps to protect themselves, their workers and the homeowner......and some contractors that throw caution to the wind and just do the work. I think a lot of homeowners (me included) just assume there is always lead present and take the necessary precautions.

My guess is that if this regulation becomes final, as is, we would start to see a line item amount on contractors bids/bills specifically for lead abatement. The WSJ article has one of the home builder's associations saying it could add as much as 25% to the cost of contractor work. This cost seems high to me, but it would seem that if they say this now....this is what will probably be charged later.

One thing to note as that the regulations are in their proposed state (and not finalized yet). The EPA now will take comments from homeowners, industry folk, medical profession, etc. until April 10, 2006. If you are so inclined to give them your views of the new rules, the link above also provides information on how to go about submitting your comments. Don't be timid, it's an easy thing to do (no I'm not affiliated witht he EPA, but see this stuff in my line of work). Explain who you are, your connection to the topic and what you specifically think of the proposed rule.


Craig & Ellen said...


We recently got a quote for painting the exterior of our house, and there was a separate line item for the "lead package" on the bid sheet. I believe this included special gear for the employees, shopvac-ing with special filters, collecting all the chips and transporting them to a hazardous waste facility, and a few other minor precautions.

StuccoHouse said...

I wonder what would happen if you opted out of the "lead package." Would the contractor knowingly mishandle lead...and subject his/her workers to it? Although, kudos to that bid for even recognizing the lead issue.

Craig & Ellen said...

I was under the impression that they wouldn't do the work if we opted out the package. They just nicely separated it out so we could see how much extra we had to spend to get rid of it, I guess!

I'm sure we could have found someone who wouldn't bother with special precautions (and charge less). We preferred to just bite the bullet and get it taken care of, so we can say that exterior lead paint was found and dealt with by professionals on the disclosure forms when we eventually sell the house.

StuccoHouse said...

I would have done the same thing. It actually shows he knows his job (and old paint). Its kind of a bummer to see it as a special line item though, considering there is probably lead in 90% of the paint jobs out there.

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