It’s Summer and Time to Renovate and Paint! Lead-Safe Tips for Child Care Providers

by Colleen Nunn, Lead Professional, Lead, Pesticides & Children’s Health Unit, EPA Region 8

Colleen Nunn

Now is a good time to remind everyone who is fixing up child care centers or homes built before 1978 that the paint on these buildings can contain lead and should only be disturbed in a lead-safe way. None of us want to accidentally harm our children – which can happen when lead dust and paint chips are created while scraping, sanding, power-washing or using a heat gun on paint. Even low levels of lead in children’s blood damages their ability to learn, their IQ, and their behavioral development and just miniscule amounts of lead dust can do this damage, which is lifelong!

Renovations, Repairs and Painting

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) law, called the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, should be followed when paint is disturbed in child care facilities and homes built before 1978. The RRP Rule requires an officially certified contractor to oversee the job. These contractors have 8 hours of lead-safe training and take care of all the fine points — like working in ways that minimize lead dust, avoiding work practices that create lead hazards, and cleaning up in ways that capture any lead dust.

Look for the LogoEPA-Lead safe

Once a company gets certified, they get a Lead-Safe Certified Logo and you can find them on-line here. Just type ‘Colorado’ in the State Box and you’ll see more than 1,500 Colorado companies.

To learn more, EPA created a pamphlet for families and child care operators called, The Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right. There is also a trifold with lead-safe renovation advice expressly for child care providers.


Our Yards Can Contain Dangers

Many of today’s lead poisonings result from renovations that disturb lead-based paint. But another source of poisonings comes from lead in the soil near our homes or child cares and in yards and playgrounds. The lead may have settled there from deteriorating exterior lead-based paint, from atmospheric lead deposits from smelters, manufacturing plants or leaded gasoline used over 30 years ago, or from someone dumping leaded waste on the ground.

If you have any bare soil that children dig in and you haven’t had it tested for lead, it is advisable to plant grass there or mulch the area to keep children away from it. Better to have a specific area for them to play in where you know the soil has no lead residue. How do you know? Applying new dirt or sand from a hardware store should be safe, but it can be checked by a lead-safe certified inspector or risk assessor just to be sure. They can check paint on your playground equipment and inside or outside your buildings.

How to Find a Lead Inspector or Risk Assessor

If you want to find a certified professional who can test your paint or soil, look in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Lead Services Directory under, ‘Evaluators.’

For more information, you can visit EPA’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Website.

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