Renovate Right

March 24, 2010

On April 22, 2010 the US EPA’s law on “Renovation, Repair and Painting” (RRP) will go into effect.  This new law will affect you, if:

  • You live in a home that was built prior to 1978.
  • Your children (age 6 or younger) attend a facility that was built prior to 1978.

Why 1978?  Lead-based paint was used in more than 38 million homes and buildings until it was banned for residential use in 1978.  Once ingested, lead, like other heavy elements, has a way of hanging around in our bodies – this can cause biological disturbances.  In large doses, it can lead to toxicity – affecting our brains and nervous systems.  Children, in their developing stages, are the most susceptible to lead toxicity.

Lead in paint that is adhered to an object does not propose a danger – it does not out-gas or radiate.  If you live in a home that contains lead paint, you do not necessarily need to have a costly abatement team remove all paint from your home.  Disrupting lead paint is where the EPA’s concern is.

Lead gets into our bodies via nose and mouth.  Paint chips and dust particles are the biggest culprits to ingesting lead paint.  If you are renovating an older building, paint disruption is due to occur.

The EPA is requiring by federal law that all contractors who work in buildings built before 1978 and disrupt more than 6 square feet of interior paint or 20 square feet of exterior paint to be Certified.  This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Renovators
  • Remodelers
  • Plumbers
  • Painters
  • Electricians
  • Window and Door Contractors
  • General Contractors
  • Landlords and Property Managers
  • Some Building Engineers

Your contractor should provide for you, before the renovation begins, a copy of the EPA’s Renovate Right pamphlet.  You will also need to sign documentation for your contractor’s files saying that you received the pamphlet.  This documentation also outlines options available if you would like to opt out of the RRP procedures.

Certified professionals have been through training in how to properly handle spaces where lead paint may be present.  Containment of lead paint chips and dust are a primary concern.  These procedures are time-consuming and require additional job materials.  You can expect your renovator to line item this procedure for your home project (this small cost may vary depending on the space, project and your geographical location).  The added time and cost to your contract is worth the sense of mind in knowing that your health and wellbeing is being protected.  The federal government is currently experiencing a backlog as US contractors rush to get their certification.  If your contractor cannot produce a RRP Certification, ask to see proof of their RRP training.

Property owners who opt to DIY are excluded from this new law.  However, it highly recommended that homeowners take steps to keep themselves safe with these best practices.

  • Tape off with plastic the area you are working in.
  • Limit leaving the work area to go to other areas of the home.
  • Do not eat in the work area.
  • Keep children and animal out of the area until it has been throughly cleaned.
  • If you have them, use power tools that are connected to a vacuum system.
  • Do not sand lead-based paint.  If you must sand an area, wear a face mask.  When done, mist the area with a spray bottle of water to bring the dust out of the air.
  • When cleaning up the area, mist down all drop cloths.  Fold drop clothes edges in first to keep dust and particles from escaping.
  • Clean the area with a HEPA vacuum.  Remove the vacuum bag from the vacuum outside of the building and tape shut.
  • Promptly remove clothing and wash before walking through your home or coming in contact with other family members.

If you are not planning a major renovation, but you have paint flaking in your home, a fresh coat of paint will keep more paint from coming off.  And of course… teach your children to NEVER EAT PAINT FLAKES OR CHEW ON PAINTED SURFACES  (this includes furniture and window sills).

If you have further questions about this new law, you can add your comment below or visit

Written by Stephanie Bullwinkel, CBD for Imperial Kitchens and Baths, Inc.  Imperial Kitchens and Baths, Inc. is proud to have completed their RRP required training.  As of March 18, 2010, Imperial is in compliance with the US EPA’s RRP rule and IDPH.  Pending official notice from the EPA, the company will be a RRP Lead Certified Renovator in the Chicago area.


As kitchen designers, we look to create rooms that are not only beautiful and functional, but also safe.  As a workspace, the kitchen is one of the most dangerous – sharp objects, slippery floors and open flames are just some of the things we encounter daily.  But keeping ourselves safe is ultimately the responsibility of the occupant.

If you are a parent, you are probably super diligent about hazards in the kitchen – knives, poisons, glass jars, etc are kept out of reach or behind latching doors.  But there are other things that we all should do to minimize our risk when in the kitchen.

  1. Remove floor rugs.  We recommend that floor rugs not be used in the kitchen.  They can become loose and get caught up in our feet causing us to trip or slip.  If you feel you must have floor rugs in you kitchen, then make sure the underside has a non-skid lining.
  2. When cooking, don’t wear loose clothing that could catch fire.
  3. Make sure you have adequate ventilation for the size of your range.  If you cook with oil frequently, have your vents checked every few years.  Oil can build up inside the vents, creating an area prime for a fire within your walls.

Practicing fire safety is a number one priority.  Every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher within reach.  Check the extinguisher twice  a year to be sure it is fully charged; we recommend checking your extinguisher when you check the batteries in your fire alarm.  Your extinguisher should be rated for both electrical and grease fires.

If you find yourself with a kitchen fire and you can’t get to the fire extinguisher, keep yourself safe.  DO NOT POUR WATER ON A KITCHEN FIRE.  As someone who has experienced two kitchen fires (one a toaster malfunction, the other over heated oil in a pot), I know how important it is to be prepared so you can calmly assess the situation and not lose your home or your life.

An electrical fire:

  • Unplug the appliance and move it away from flammables, if you can.
  • Smother the fire with a heavy element like salt or baking soda.
  • Smother the fire with a heavy cloth or metal pot lid.

A PSA was recently emailed to me regarding how to handle a grease fire with a damp (not dripping) dish towel.  You can find this video posted to our Facebook page.  It is good to note several things, before you watch.  Do this only if you can’t quickly access a lid large enough to cover the pot.  Do not attempt this with a shallow pan where the towel will submerge into the oil.  In the case of an oil fire, do not try to smother the fire with particulate matter (salt, sugar, flour, etc) – this will cause an explosion.

Here’s to a safe and happy cooking experience in the new year!

Written by Imperial Kitchens and Baths designer, Stephanie Bullwinkel CBD.