Lead is a highly toxic metal that was commonly used in paint, stain and varnish in homes built before 1978. There is no safe level of lead in the body. Too much lead in the body, or lead poisoning, can cause serious and permanent health problems for anyone, but babies, young children and pregnant women are at special risk. Lead poisoning can be prevented.
NEW: As of October 1, "Essential Maintenance Practices” are now called “Inspection, Repair and Cleaning (IRC) Practices.” IRC Practices are the same as EMPs, except for these differences:
- If you are EMP or IRC Practices certified, you are no longer be able to perform paint repair of 1 square foot or more per interior room or exterior surface on pre-1978 rental housing and child care facilities. Repairs of areas larger than this need to be performed by someone who has Vermont Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair, Painting and Maintenance (RRPM) firm and supervisor licenses or the Uncompensated Child Care Operator (UCCO) certificate. Learn more about RRPM and UCCO credentials.
- You can still use your EMP certificate to perform IRC Practices (except for repairs) for 5 years from the date you took the EMP training. After that, you will need to take the new IRC Practices training to receive an updated certificate number.
Before 1978, lead was common in paint and other coatings, like stain and varnish. About 70% of Vermont homes were built before 1978 and likely contain lead-based paint. If you live in a home that was built before 1978, you should assume that all painted and coated surfaces contain lead. You cannot tell if paint or another coating is lead-free unless it has been tested by a licensed lead inspector.
Over time, lead-based paint and coatings on surfaces crumble into invisible dust — especially from opening and closing doors and windows — that contaminates homes and soil. Even if the home has been repainted since 1978, the opening and closing of doors and windows can release lead dust from the original lead-based paint or coating.
It takes only a small amount of lead-based chips or dust to cause lead poisoning. That is why it is important to keep all painted and coated surfaces in good condition and to frequently clean areas where lead dust can accumulate.
Lead can harm anyone. Young children are at the highest risk for lead poisoning because their developing bodies absorb lead more easily. They are commonly exposed to lead by swallowing it. Lead dust or soil clings to a child’s hands, toys and other objects that they then put into their mouths. Children can also swallow lead by eating, chewing or sucking on lead-painted objects such as windowsills or furniture.
Children, pregnant women and adults can be exposed to lead during renovation projects or whenever lead-based paint is improperly sanded, scraped or burned. Lead exposure can occur from breathing in lead dust, or from getting lead dust on your hands and then swallowing it while you are eating, drinking or smoking.
The Vermont Lead Poisoning Prevention Law was passed in 1996 and updated in 2008. The law requires owners of rental housing and child care facilities built before 1978 to make sure lead paint and coatings are in good condition so they do not cause lead poisoning.
To comply with the law, rental housing landlords or property management companies and child care providers are required to:
- Provide tenants with the Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home booklet when they sign their lease.
- Post an approved notice asking people to report chipping, flaking or damaged paint or coatings.
- Perform Inspection, Repair and Cleaning (IRC) Practices every year.
- Make sure any work is completed by an appropriately certified person.
- File a compliance statement with the Health Department every year certifying that IRC Practices have been done.
- Provide a copy of the compliance statement to their tenants (for rental housing owners) or the Department of Children and Families (for child care providers) and their insurance carrier within 10 days of filing their statement.
Rental housing landlords or property management companies and child care providers are required to perform IRC Practices every year, which include:
- Inspecting the property inside and outside.
- Identifying areas where paint or coatings are in poor condition (chipping or peeling) and promptly fixing it in a lead-safe way.
- Verifying that all pre-1978 wooden windows have window well inserts.
- Removing any visible paint chips on the ground outside the building.
- Performing a specialized cleaning in common areas.
- Protects children: Simple ongoing maintenance practices prevent children from being exposed to lead.
- Protects property owners: Property owners who follow the law receive increased liability protection.
- Protects workers: Using lead-safe work practices reduces workers’ exposure to lead.
Information for renters
To comply with the law, your landlord or property management company is required to:
- Give you a copy of the Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home booklet before your lease starts.
- Inspect the inside and outside of the property for chipping and peeling paint or coatings every year.
- Repair any chipping or peeling paint or coatings using lead-safe work practices.
- File a yearly IRC Practices compliance statement with the Health Department.
- Give you a copy of the most recent IRC Practices compliance statement before your lease starts and within 10 days of filing it every year.
- Post a notice to report deteriorated paint or coatings in a place that is easily seen by all renters.
If you think your landlord or property management company has not done these requirements, please talk to them first. Or, you can complete an online form and the Health Department will look into it.
Yes. You can enter in your address to look up a compliance statement. Landlords or property management companies are required to file an IRC Practices compliance statement every year.
Look for deterioration of any painted or coated surface. Deterioration is when the paint or coating on surfaces chips, peels, flakes, cracks, or is otherwise damaged. If the paint or coating does not appear smooth and firmly attached to the surface it is on, it needs to be repaired.
Be sure to carefully look in all hard-to-see places. Tell your landlord or property management company if you notice any deterioration. The law only requires your landlord or property management company to make repairs in a room or on the outside of the building if the total area of deterioration is one square foot or more. The Health Department recommends that landlords or property management companies repair any deterioration, no matter how small. If there is any deteriorated paint or coating:
- Use plastic sheeting to block off any areas where you see deteriorated paint or coatings.
- Keep children and pregnant women away.
- Secure the sheeting on all sides with tape.
- Use soap and a wet disposable cloth to clean up any paint chips or dust. Clean until a new cloth appears still clean after being wiped along cleaned surfaces.
Clean window wells routinely and other high friction areas, such as door frames, using soap and a wet disposable cloth.
If your landlord or property management company is not following the requirements of the law, fill out an online form and the Health Department will investigate your concern.
Vermont and federal regulations require workers who are disturbing lead-based paint to be Vermont Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair, Painting and Maintenance (RRPM) licensed. These credentials are needed for any work on pre-1978 rental housing that disturbs painted surface that is more than 1 square foot per room or exterior side of the building.
You will also want to make sure that the workers are using lead-safe work practices and not doing any prohibited activities.
If you are concerned about work being done on your home, fill out this online form, and the Health Department will investigate your concern.
You must have an IRC Practices-certified person perform IRC Practices on your property and ensure lead-safe practices are followed when work is done on your property. This means you must:
- Assume all paint or coatings are lead-based, unless tested by a Vermont-licensed lead inspector.
- Take precautions to prevent the spread of lead dust by making sure lead-safe work practices are followed.
- Make sure work is done by an IRC Practices-certified person who has attended a training approved by the Health Department.
- If work needs to be done on an area greater than 1 square feet per room or exterior side of building, make sure the work is done by workers who have the Vermont Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair, Painting and Maintenance (RRPM) firm and supervisor licenses.
If you are a landlord or property management company, you are required to provide your tenants with information about lead-based paint and coatings. This means you must:
- Give your tenants a copy of the Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home booklet and a copy of the rental unit’s most recent IRC Practices Compliance Statement before the lease starts.
- Give your tenants a copy of every IRC Practices compliance statement within 10 days of filing it.
- Post a notice for occupants to report deteriorated paint to the owner or property management company, which must be prominently posted.
- Provide tenants with any known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards.
Please note that unsafe work practices that disturb lead-based paint will create lead hazards. By law, you will be responsible for the cleanup if lead hazards are created in any building or structure, which will require you to hire a Vermont-licensed lead abatement contractor.
IRC Practices must be performed by an IRC Practices-certified person. We recommend that all rental housing and child care owners or managers become IRC Practices certified. Find out how to become IRC Practices certified
Every year you need to:
- Inspect the property inside and outside.
- Identify areas where paint is in poor condition (chipping or peeling) and promptly have a Vermont Lead-Safe RRPM Licensed worker fix it in a lead-safe way.
- Verify that all wooden windows have window well inserts.
- Remove any visible paint chips on the ground outside the building.
- Perform a specialized cleaning in common areas.
- File a compliance statement with the Health Department certifying that IRC Practices have been done. File Your IRC Practices Compliance Statement
- Give a copy of the IRC Practices compliance statement to tenants and your insurance carrier if you are a rental housing owner. If you are a child care provider, post a copy in a visible location in your child care and give a copy to your insurance carrier.
IRC Practices must be performed by an IRC Practices-certified person. We recommend that all rental housing and child care owners or managers become IRC Practices certified. IRC Practices classes are offered online and in person. You can learn about the different training options and view the training materials on the IRC Practices training page.
The IRC Practices certification class will train participants to:
- Comply with the Vermont Lead Poisoning Prevention Law
- Understand the health effects of lead exposure
- Learn ways to protect children from exposure to lead
- Know how to perform EMPs safely
- Identify work practices that increase the risk of lead poisoning
If you are hiring a contractor to do work that will disturb area greater than 1 square foot per room or exterior side of the building, the work must be done by a worker who has the Vermont Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair, Painting and Maintenance (RRPM) firm and supervisor licenses. The type of work that requires these licenses includes but is not limited to painting, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, weatherization and window replacement work.
If you are a landlord, you can do the work yourself, but you also need to be Vermont Lead-Safe RRPM firm and supervisor licensed.
Learn more about the Vermont Lead-Safe RRPM requirements and how to get licensed.
Lead-safe work practices include:
- Limiting access to work areas
- Enclosing the work area with plastic sheeting
- Wearing protective clothing
- Using water to dampen painted surfaces or debris before disturbing them
- Avoiding practices that create dust
- Keeping lead dust in the work area
- Cleaning up the area once work is done
Find more information on required lead-safe work practices.
Under the law, the following practices are not allowed to be used:
- Dry scraping
- Using chemical strippers, particularly those containing methylene chloride
- Open flame burning or torching
- Heat guns operating above 1100°F
- Dry sweeping lead-contaminated areas or surfaces
Complete this online form if you think you no longer need to file IRC Practices compliance statements.
The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board’s Lead-Based Paint Program provides financial and technical assistance to income-eligible landlords and property owners to reduce the risk of lead poisoning caused by lead-based paint hazards. Call 802-828-5064 or 800-290-0527 or email [email protected].
If your property is in Burlington or Winooski, the Burlington Lead Program of the City of Burlington provides similar assistance. Call 802-865-LEAD (5323).