Spring is here, which means the start of the home remodeling season. But if you live in a pre-1978 built home, your first call — before you call a contractor — should be to an environmental testing company to have your home tested for lead.

What’s the significance of the 1978 date? That was the year lead paint was removed from interior paints in the United States. And why should you care? Because annually, 34 years after lead paint was banned, more than 400,000 children are still being poisoned by the paint that remains. And this is not just an inner-city problem. Lead poisoning knows no economic bounds.

Unless you know where lead is lurking, your contractor can unknowingly release toxic lead dust into the air. And if a professional lead inspection firm finds lead remnants in your home, be sure your contractor is certified in lead-safe work practices.

Under a recent Renovation, Repair, and Paint rule (RRP) enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) almost two years ago, all work performed on painted surfaces in a pre-1978 built home must follow a strict protocol.

  1. The company that does your work – from a simple painting job to a full-house renovation – must be a certified in lead-safe work practices by the Environmental Protection Agency. Do not let a tradesperson tell you certification is not needed. It is. Uncertified tradespeople should not be working in an environment that contains lead paint, and if caught, face a stiff fine and will be forced to stop work in your home.
  2. The work area in a leaded environment needs to be sealed off from the remainder of the living space. At the end of the day, the contractor is required to thoroughly clean the area in accordance with EPA guidelines.
  3. Certified tradespeople have to document the work they perform and file a report at the end of the project.

Once the work is performed, the next and very important step is to have the environmental testing firm conduct a second lead test to be sure your home is 100 percent lead free.

Click here to schedule a lead test.

Tomorrow: Tips for do-it-yourself homeowners ready to tackle their own home renovations.