Every day general contractors and tradespeople call National Inspection Services offices with questions about the laws and their due diligence regarding asbestos, lead-based paint, and mold.
While this article is in no way a substitute for thoroughly educating yourself on state and federal environmental regulations dealing with these three hazards, we hope it will help you understand some of the basic principles of contractor responsibility.
If you are a residential or commercial contractor or trades person involved in maintaining, razing or remodeling construction, you need to know about the law and your responsibilities
regarding asbestos. In Colorado, thousands of properties of all ages still harbor this dangerous fibrous silicate, which was used for many decades in fire-resistant and insulating
building materials. Even newly built construction may contain asbestos because, contrary to popular belief, asbestos has not been banned in the United States.
Here is just a partial list of the materials in which asbestos may be
- ceiling textures
- vinyl floor coverings and mastic
- boiler and pipe insulation
- heating and cooling duct insulation
- ceiling tile
- roofing products
- clapboard shingles
Asbestos is subject to both federal and state regulations. In Colorado, every property must be inspected for asbestos by a Colorado-certified asbestos building inspector before any demolition or construction work takes place. In fact, it is illegal to improperly disturb asbestoscontaining materials (ACMs).
If the inspector finds ACMs that will be disturbed in excess of the following “trigger” levels, a licensed abatement contractor must remove it: Single-family residential: 50 linear
feet on pipes; 32 square feet on other surfaces; or the volume equivalent of a 55-gallon drum
Other construction: 260 linear feet on pipes; 160 square feet on other
surfaces; or the volume equivalent of a 55-gallon drum.
Asbestos removal must be performed by a licensed General Abatement Contractor certified by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
A written notification and notification fee must be submitted to the CDPHE 10 working days before the removal of ACMS. The materials must be disposed of at an approved asbestos waste
Even when the inspector finds no asbestos or asbestos below trigger levels in a facility, the notification form and fee must be submitted to the CDPHE and the 10-day waiting period
adhered to when a building.
will be demolished. In addition, special rules govern the recycling of materials bonded or contaminated with ACMs, the demolition of buildings containing non-friable asbestos, and
the imploding or burning of a structure,regardless of trigger levels. Moreover, OSHA mandates that you protect your employees from asbestos exposure at
If you do not comply with asbestos regulations, you may be subjecting your company to substantial fines and costly litigation.
Visit www.cdphe.state.co.us/ap/asbeshom.asp and click on Topics A-Z—>Asbestos for forms, fees, and more details.
An EPA regulation called the RRP Rule (Renovation, Repair and Painting) requires contractors that disturb painted surfaces in homes, childcare facilities, and schools built before 1978 to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. Most homes built
before 1978 contain lead-based paint.
In general, the older the structure, the more likely it does. If you will be disturbing more than two square feet of painted surfaces during a demolition or construction project in
a house or childcare facility built before 1978, you must:
1. Distribute a lead owners and occupants before starting the work.
2. At the job site, post signs accurately describing the work (for mult-family);
3. Set up a lead-safe worksite.
4. Capture dust and clean up per EPA requirements.
5. Dispose of waste in accordance withregulations.
6. Retain records for three years.
In addition, your firm must be certified by the EPA’s Lead Certification Program, which teaches the RRP Rules. This one-day, accredited program trains you and your employees to test for lead
and safely set up the job site, minimize dust on the job, and clean up carefully and completely. Even small amounts of airborne lead dust can harm you, your employees, and your customers.
In essence, it is illegal for you to perform work that will disturb more than two square feet of painted surface in or on a residential home, childcare facility, or school built before 1978
unless you are certified. In addition, permits are required for abatement projects.
Contractors who do not comply may be subject to fines and litigation. Stiff fines (up to $37,500) for violating the RRP Rule can be levied.
For more information on RRP certification in Colorado, call 303.692.158 or visit www.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also established a construction standard for the maximum limits of lead exposure for all workers. Employers of construction
workers are required to have a worker protection program in place.
To learn more about constructionoriented lead requirements in Colorado, visit www.colorado.gov/cdphe/ leadpaint or call 303.692.3150.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has affirmed that there is sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people. The IOM and the World Health Organization have also cautioned that mold may cause respiratory illness, including asthma, in otherwise healthy children.
Despite the growing awareness that mold causes health problems, mold inspection and remediation is not as regulated by the federal and state governments as inspection and remediation for asbestos and leadbased paint are. Of the three, it’s the “new kid on the block.”
Colorado does not require special licensing or mold certifications for mold inspectors or remediators. However, the still-loose regulatory environment does not protect you from litigation by a property owner or tenant affected by mold in a property you worked on or
Our advice is that you hire an experienced, professional inspector to conduct a careful and detailed visual inspection for mold, especially in buildings known to have suffered water damage or buildings in which mold is found during demolition. In these cases, mold remediation should be undertaken by professionals trained in hazardous materials removal and equipped with proper safety gear.
For more information, visit the EPA’s website, www.epa.gov/mold/. In Colorado, call the Indoor Air Quality Program of the Colorado Department
of Public Health and Environment,