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Contractor Uses EPA RRP Lead Practices on Bath Remodel

Posted by Mark Paskell on Sun, Jan 31, 2010 @ 02:31 PM

Yesterday on the linkedin NARI group contractor and remodeler John Clark implemented the lead safe practices according to the EPA RRP Certified Renovator course. He describes his challenges in excellent detail. This may be a glimpse of what is to come for remodelers. Please let us know if you have any similar stories out there. We will forward these stories to our contacts at the EPA to let them know the realities we will face complying with the rule. Here is John's excellent post;

This week, I completed my RRP Training on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I jumped into a remodel of a small bathroom in a ranch house that was actually a perfect test case of trying to comply with the RRP Rules. The house is occupied only in the summer. This allowed me to create a larger dust containment area by creating a plastic tunnel from the middle of the house to the exterior.

Prior to starting the complete demolition of the 6x8 bathroom, I went looking for coveralls or suits as required by the EPA. None of the lumberyards had any that would meet the requirements. I then went to a local Sherwin Williams and all they had, was coveralls with a hood, but none with feet covers built in. The ones that they had, cost $8.95 each. As an aside, I asked the Manager if he know about the RRP Rule. I got a blank look. I then explained what the rule would bring about. His response- "It's just another government scheme to get more money in fees from the trades"

Back to the job, after spending about an 2.5 hrs prepping and sealing this is what happened:

The suit lasted about an hour before it started to rip.
Putting tile into trash bags requires double bagging and many bags.
The same goes for drywall.
The suits hold in quite a bit of heat and restrict range of motion.
Door with slit and flaps kept falling down, I came up with a better way to fasten the top and sides of the barrier by cleating strapping onto the door trim.
This method will add cost, as the painter will have to repaint the trim.
Passing bags loaded with tile and drywall through a slit by myself is very slow and cumbersome. Some goes for larger pieces of lumber.

In training, the instructors said that anytime you leave the containment area you needed to perform a dry decontamination- I stopped doing this after repeated trips to my tool trailer and the dumpster- It go to a point where I was not sure if I was de-conned anymore.

I had forgotten to pull the toilet and sink before setting up the plastic barrier at the door and the cast iron tub? I had to move it to another area within the containment barrier, complete my demo and clean the entire job up before taking the plastic door down. Then the tub was removed for disposal.

Some Conclusions:
Expect to go through many coveralls if you want to avoid contamination of your clothing. The same goes for dust masks, I took mine off several times and set it down without thinking.

Demolition time will double or even triple especially in hot weather.

Bagging debris will be cumbersome and you will have to make many many trips to the dumpster.

The demolition phase will be the worse, but once your cleaned and verified then the job can proceed normally.

There is no question that it will be a challenge and costly to follow the EPA requirements for the new law. Yet, trying to get this law weakened will be an uphill battle. Personally, I am advocating that the law be changed to compel property owners to take more responsibility in ensuring that they comply with the law and hire only companies that are certified.

I just came home to open the front page of my local newspaper to find that our local town Selectmen approved a Stretch Energy Code, which from what I understand, takes the part of the MA building code that deals with energy efficiency and puts the requirements on major steroids. A local builder was quoted as saying that the new requirements could add between $10,000-$20,000 to the cost of a new home. Remodelers will also need to comply with the requirements. I am going to be calling the building inspector on Monday to find out what requirements impact remodeling.

So let's sum it up-

In the midst of a major economic slowdown, a major industry is expected to absorb the costs of meeting a federal mandate, accept the whims of local officials who want to be politically correct and then sit back while Congress decides to make growing beyond four employees impossible.

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