Rhode Island Commercial Lead Paint Compliance
In 2003 the RI Housing and Resource Commission (HRC) began the task of developing lead hazard regulations so that owners of property would have to meet certain minimum standards for lead safety in rental units. The HRC lead mitigation regulations are, in many ways, much less stringent than the RI Department of Health’s regulations that govern the level of lead safety in homes of lead poisoned children. The HRC regulations went through many changes until being finally implemented in late 2005. The Lead Hazard Mitigation Law requires that most owners of rental properties built before 1978 meet the following four requirements:
- Get a Certificate of Conformance
- Give tenants information about lead hazards
- Respond to tenant concerns
- Keep your Certificate of Conformance current
The complete regulations can be viewed on the HRC website: http://www.hrc.state.ri.us/mitigation.html
The process begins with a visual inspection of the interior apartment unit, common areas and exterior of the building. The inspection identifies the following:
- Any loose paint or friction surfaces wher paint may create lead dust
- Exposed soil within 5 feet of the building foundation
- Lead in dust
At this time, the paint is only visually inspected and not actually tested since under these regulations all paint is assumed to contain lead. Unfortunately for owners, this generally requires that the paint on components in apartment units and in common areas be in very good condition to pass. Any defect in the paint, especially chipping, peeling, or flaking, is cause enough for failure. Note that old wood windows are nearly impossible to pass due to loose paint especially on the exterior side, and the friction points within the track and window well areas.
If the unit does pass the visual part of the inspection, a set of 4 dust wipes is collected on floors and/or window areas to determine if lead dust is present on these surfaces. The dust wipes must pass the following criteria:
- Floors must have less than 20 micrograms of lead in a square foot area.
- Window sills must have less than 250 micrograms of lead in a square foot area.
- Window wells must have less than 400 micrograms of lead in a square foot area.
The inspection also involves looking for exposed soil within 5 feet of the building’s foundation. Coverage of this area with mulch or thick grass is adequate to pass the requirement.
When everything meets the requirements, a Certificate of Conformance is issued by the inspector which is valid for 2 years from the date of issue.
The report that follows the inspection is generally comprised of three pages along with any laboratory sample analysis.
The first page contains identifying information about the property and the purpose of the inspection.
The second page contain check boxes which list whether lead hazards were found in paint within the unit and common areas, and also if lead dust and soil hazards were identified. This page also details in which room areas hazards were found and on what type of components. This is especially important for owners to review and use it to direct their efforts properly when fixing hazards. Generally, touch up painting is enough to fix paint hazards in a fairly maintained apartment.
The third page lists the results of dust wipes and whether the lead in dust represents a hazard. If dust wipes fail, then the owner should conduct a thorough cleaning of the entire apartment before another set of dust wipes is collected. The inspector may also help identify the source of lead in an effort to contain any recontamination of the areas.