Property owners need to know how to identify and safely mitigate or eliminate lead hazards as required by law.
Do's and don'ts of home renovation for do-it-yourself (DIY) renovators
Was your property or home built before 1978? Lead is still a serious health problem. Over 80,000 children in Illinois are harmed by lead, mostly from peeling and chipping lead paint.
Property owners renovating, repairing, or painting their own homes or windows should follow lead safe work practices.
Property owners in Chicago may qualify for the Chicago Department of Public Health's Lead Abatement program. CDPH offers financial assistance to eliminate lead hazards and is able to pay for 50% to 100% of lead hazard abatement costs at eligible properties.
Contractors for lead work
Before beginning any remodeling or renovation work, interim control, or de-leading work, it is important to know that anyone doing this type of work must know about lead-safe work practices. The State of Illinois licenses lead contractors who are trained to work safely with lead.
When hiring a lead contractor, in addition to getting cost estimates from a few contractors and checking references, make sure the contractor knows about lead contractor requirements under the US EPA Repair, Renovation and Paint (RRP) Rule and Illinois' lead laws.
US EPA Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule for contractors
Beginning April 2010 contractors performing work that disturbs lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must: be EPA certified, and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Learn more about the RRP rule, or visit www.epa.gov/lead. Contractors may review their responsibilities in the Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right.
Finding a lead contractor
The Illinois Department of Public Health has a searchable list of lead-safe contractors who do lead abatement as well as lead-safe renovation and remodeling work. The Lead Listing also has a searchable database of lead contractors in every state.
Property owners are required to disclose information to tenants about lead hazards
Tenants have a right of notification of lead hazards before moving in.
Federal law: The federal government requires that landlords and homeowners tell prospective tenants and buyers about any known lead hazards before they agree to rent or buy the property. This law only applies to houses built before 1978. This law does not require homeowners or landlords to inspect the property, they are only required to provide educational materials and a disclosure form that states that lead hazards may exist and where known, do exist. View an overview of the federal disclosure law.
Chicago law: In Chicago, landlords must provide all tenants with a written summary of the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Law. Landlords or their agents must tell their tenants in writing if the unit they live in violated any Chicago housing codes within the past year. This notification must happen before any lease or lease renewal is signed.
When property owners are required to mitigate or eliminate lead hazards
Under Illinois rules, any home with a child in residence must be inspected for lead if:
- the child has a blood lead level at or above 20 µg/dL; or
- the child has three blood lead levels in a row of 15–19 µg/dL; or
- the child has a single confirmed blood lead level at or above 10 µg /dL and the child's physician requests an investigation; or
- the child is less than 3 years of age and has a single confirmed blood lead level at or above 10 µg/dL; or
- mitigation notices are issued for two or more dwelling units in a building within a five year period, and an inspection has been requested by a parent or guardian of a child under 6 years who resides in the building or by a pregnant woman who resides in the building.
The Department may inspect common areas in the building where mitigation notices have been issued for two or more dwelling units in a building within a five year period. Children under the age of three who meet the above criteria will have priority for home inspections over older children.
If a lead hazard exists, the Department of Public Health (IDPH or CDPH) serves a mitigation notice on the property owner. This notice tells the owner that he or she is required to fix the lead hazard, and how long he or she has to complete it. The property owner is required to notify all tenants of the hazard by posting a notice of lead hazards in common areas of the building.
IDPH or CDPH representatives are authorized to inspect homes and take samples for lead testing to ensure the safety of children living in the building. The city or state can apply for a warrant if an owner is unwilling to have the property tested for lead.
Property owners in Chicago may qualify for the Chicago Department of Public Health's Lead Abatement program. CDPH offers financial assistance to eliminate lead hazards and is able to pay for 50% to 100% of lead hazard abatement costs for eligible properties.
Do's and Don'ts
Working on a home built before 1978?
- Don't let children near work areas
- Don't eat/drink/smoke near work areas
- Don't use power sanders or grinders
- Don't use heat guns over 1,100°
- Don't dry scrape or dry sand
- Do use heavy plastic to contain dust
- Do use spray bottles to wet surfaces
- Do use detergent, buckets and rags
- Do wear overalls and change clothes
- Do use garbage bags
US EPA Renovate, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule for contractors
When hiring a lead contractor, in addition to getting cost estimates from a few contractors and checking references, make sure the contractor is certified to perform the work under the US EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule and Illinois' lead laws. Beginning April 2010 contractors performing work that disturbs lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must:
- Be EPA certified, and
- Follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.