Make Your Home Lead-Safe
The older the house, the more likely it has lead paint. Assume all old paint contains lead and makes dust.
If you have children under age six or are pregnant, low to moderate income residents can qualify for a lead abatement grant to help make their home lead-safe. This is for both renters and homeowners.
If you are a landlord in need of a lead inspection, abatement work, and a lead clearance, you can also qualify for grant programs. Grants prioritize lead-poisoned children first, and you may not receive services for some time.
Detroit has three lead abatement grants:
Detroit HRD CityWide Lead Program: (313)-224-6380
Detroit HRD Lead Safe Home Program: (313)-224-6380
CLEARCorps can mail you a MDHHS application.
Renovation vs. Abatement: It’s all about intent
If you were to make this home “lead-safe” you would re-side it, wrap all exterior trim in aluminum coil stock, replace all of the windows, and all of the doors. Inside, you would re-paint, replace, or drywall over all components with old deteriorating paint.
But did you just do renovation or abatement?
It is question of your intent.
If you had a Lead Inspection/Risk Assessment completed on the home to identify all lead-based paint hazards, and your repairs are intentionally addressing those hazards, then you are doing abatement. You must use a certified lead-abatement contractor whose workers are all certified lead abatement workers. A Lead Inspector/Risk Assessor must then perform a lead clearance to confirm that all hazards were addressed, and that no visual debris or dust hazards remain. All work must be done lead-safe in compliance with all abatement regulations.
(Note: painting is an interim control (temporary fix), and not an abatement method. Abatement is defined as replacement, enclosure, or encapsulation that addresses an identified lead-based paint hazard for at least 25 years. Interim controls are often spec’d in conjunction with abatement, but are not themselves abatement).
If you are re-siding your house, replacing all windows and doors, and addressing all deteriorated paint because you want to, you are doing renovation. On pre-1978 built housing, companies still must work lead-safe. Any company working with paint on pre-1978 housing must be a Lead-Safe Certified Firm under the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule. Their applicable workers must be individually RRP certified as well. This means that workers and their employers should know how to work lead-safe. All work must be done lead-safe in compliance with all EPA RRP rule requirements.
What Does Lead-Safe Look Like?
First ask for identification. Any company should be able to show you their firm’s accreditation (abatement, RRP, or both). Individual workers are also given certification ID cards.
You should get something: Prior to abatement, clients must receive the Protect Your Family brochure. Prior to renovation, clients must receive the Renovate Right brochure. Your contractor must keep a signed receipt.
Where are you? No one other than the workers should be allowed near the work area.
Defined work area: Signs and caution tape should be posted defining the work area. For abatement, this is usually the whole property.
Plastic, plastic, plastic: You should see thick (6-mil) plastic sheeting on the floor of the work area, and over the doorway leading there. For abatement, this is usually the whole house (but you wouldn’t be there to see it anyways). Plastic sheeting should be secured with tape, and cover all HVAC vents. If weather permits, the HVAC system should be turned off.
Work wet: Workers should mist surfaces with water prior to scraping to prep for painting. Workers should mist dust and debris on plastic sheeting to keep dust down.
No debris: No painted objects (e.g. old windows) should ever be off plastic sheeting and just on the ground. All debris must be wrapped in plastic sheeting and/or the the dumpster must be lined with 6-mil poly.
HEPA Vac: Only certified RRP-compliant commercial HEPA vacs can be used when working with old paint. If you see something you can buy at Home Depot, this is a big no-no.
Clean, Clean, Clean: working lead-safe means working clean. Following work the contractor must safely dispose of all materials in sealed 6-mil poly or goose-necked contractor-grade garbage bags. They must then HEPA vac and wet clean the work area (mop with disposable wet cleaning products) to remove all visual dust and debris.
For abatement, the lead-specific clean must result in a passed lead clearance. For renovation, the lead-specific clean must leave the work area cleaner than before work began. There must be no visual dust or debris.
What do you do if you see non-lead-safe work practices?
If you see a companies working with old paint and not working lead-safe, call MDHHS at 517-335-9390. Try to get the company’s name and an vehicle identification numbers. Do not approach the work site or the company.
Disclaimer: The above does not certify you to perform work for pay in any way.