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The Log Blog

Renovating a Home Built Prior to 1978? Don’t Forget to Test for Lead

Beyers Lumber - Monday, November 08, 2010
Most home improvement projects on houses build prior to 1978 will require contractors to follow strict lead paint removal precautions due to the new federal Lead Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP). RRP went into full effect on April 22, 2010, and pertains to paid renovations on housing and facilities occupied by children. Lead-based paint was used in more than 38 million homes until it was banned for residential use in 1978. It is a fact that 65% of Missouri homes were built prior to 1978 and 24% of Missouri housing was built before 1950, when high lead-content paint was even more popular. Renovation contractors, painters, and apartment maintenance workers are all covered under this new rule. Contractors performing the work are required to gain Lead paint-removal certification with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Contractors who want information about working safely with lead should contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD for information about courses and resources on lead-safe work practices.

“To comply with the new regulation, those working on older sites will need to invest in lead-testing kits, plastic sheeting, respirators, protective clothing and other lead-safety materials. The threshold for the new rules is whether the home improvement project will disturb more than 6 interior square feet of paint or 20 exterior square feet of paint. This extremely low threshold will cover virtually any home improvement project involving cutting into any wall or ceiling. The only way to avoid taking the extra precaution is to have a certified inspector (which may be the contractor) perform an EPA endorsed lead paint test.” According to Richard Vetstein of the Massachusetts Law Blog.

LeadCheck® Swabs are one of the few lead-checking swabs that are EPA and RRP-approved and were the first of commercially available products to help you instantly determine if action needs to be taken against lead contamination. Beyers Lumber & Hardware stocks this item as well as Do It-Best Poly sheeting, Zip n Close Zippers for Poly sheeting, and NIOSH-approved 3M Professional Respirators.

These items are readily available behind the counter as well as for order through our Do It-Best website for pick-up in store. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 314-993-2445 or toll free at 1-800-229-9662


(sources listed below)

  • Missouri is the #1 lead-producing state in the United States.

Percentage of US Homes Likely to Contain Lead built…

  • Between 1960 – 1978: 24%
  • Between 1940 – 1960: 69%
  • Before 1940: 87%

EPA Lead facts:

  • Lead can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems, causing reduced IQ, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems.
  • Lead is also harmful to adults.
  • Lead in dust is the most common way people are exposed to lead. People can also get lead in their bodies from lead in soil or paint chips. Lead dust is often invisible.
  • Lead-based paint was used in more than 38 million homes until it was banned for residential use in 1978.
  • Projects that disturb painted surfaces can create dust and endanger you and your family.

Why was Lead ever used?

  • Made colors more vibrant
  • Preserved the paint by making it weather resistant
  • Resisted the growth of mold and mildew
  • Prevented corrosion of metal surfaces.
  • Helped paint dry faster

Have an interest in historical architecture and civic issues in the St. Louis region?
We Recommend these Resources:

B.E.L.T. - Built Environment in Layman's Terms - St. Louis

Modern STL -St. Louis Mid-Century Modern Architecture

Ecology of Absence - Preservation Research office


compiled by Krysta Beyers

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