MHIC Reminds Contractors About New Lead Rules


EPA Certification Required to do Renovation Work in Homes Built Before 1978; Rules Expand Protections Against Harm from Lead-based Paint

(BALTIMORE, 4/22/10) -- New federal regulations that took effect today require that contractors, handymen and landlords who perform renovation and repair work in most residences built before 1978 be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. This rule is the latest effort by the EPA to protect children and others from health hazards created by exposure to lead-based paint, which was banned in 1978.

The Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC), part of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation's Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, wants to remind Maryland contractors that they must obtain EPA certification in addition to maintaining their MHIC license in order to perform renovations on homes built before 1978.

"We applaud the EPA for taking these pro-active steps to protect children, pregnant women, elderly individuals and anyone else affected by renovation work that creates lead dust or matter," said Stanley Botts, Commissioner of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

Commissioner Botts noted that this certification requirement applies to many of the most common home improvement projects in older homes, including:

  • Repair and modification of doors, walls and ceilings, and in particular sanding, scraping and window repair.
  • Removal of building components such as walls, ceilings, plumbing and windows.
  • Weatherization projects.
  • Renovations that convert all or part of a building into housing.

The new rules apply to any modifications that disturb 6 square feet or more of interior painted surfaces (about the size of a standard poster) or 20 square feet or more of exterior painted surfaces (about the size of a door.) In some cases, the rules may apply even for projects that do not involve work on surfaces if there is the potential for lead to be disturbed.

They apply to any person or firm that performs renovations for compensation, including handymen, as well as landlords who perform work on their own properties.

At least one individual working on any project must be a certified renovator who has received training from an EPA-certified provider. Contractors also are required to provide consumers proof of their certification and training as a "certified renovator" before they begin work. The EPA may fine individuals up to $37,500 per violation.

Consumers have a right to be informed of how lead disturbed in any renovation project will be contained. They should ask for proof that contractors are certified, and contractors are required to provide consumers a copy of the EPA lead hazard information pamphlet "Renovate Right."

For more information, consumers can log onto the EPA website or call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD. Contractors, handymen and landlords can find an application and instructions on how to become certified renovators on the EPA website.