EPA tightens lead paint protections

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday bolstered its protections against lead paint poisoning, eliminating an exemption that had allowed the owners of some older homes to opt out of lead-safe rules during renovation or repair. 

A 2008 EPA rule forced construction contractors to follow lead-safe guidelines for all pre-1978 homes, schools and child care facilities, but owners could opt out of the requirement if no pregnant women or children under the age of six lived there. The new rule simply removes that opt-out option. 

The lead-safe guidelines require painters, renovators and other construction contractors to contain and clean up their work if the job will disturb lead-based paint, which can damage the brain and nervous system, particularly in children. 

The change takes effect immediately.