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Coeur d’Alene contractor fined for failing to control lead dust during home renovation

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 19, 2017

A Coeur d’Alene contractor was fined $9,800 for not following proper procedures to control lead dust while painting a 95-year-old house.

David Rucker, owner of DLR Properties LLC, signed a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he neither admitted nor denied guilt.

The problems occurred in 2015, when Rucker’s company was working on a 1912-era house at 408 Reid St. in Coeur d’Alene, according to an EPA complaint.

While the house was being prepped for exterior painting, employees didn’t take precautions to ensure that lead dust and paint chips didn’t spread to other buildings or the adjacent properties, the complaint said.

“The regulations are designed to protect the people living there and the employees doing the work,” said Suzanne Skadowski, an EPA spokeswoman.

Home renovation is a frequent source of lead exposure for both children and adults, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Despite efforts to get the word out, many contractors continue to violate EPA rules for safe removal of lead-based paint that took effect in 2010, Skadowski said.

The rules apply to paid contractors or handymen – including electricians, plumbers and painters – who work on homes built before 1978. Remodeling projects in other buildings from that era where children age 5 and younger are present, such as schools or day cares, also fall under the rules.

A certified renovator who has taken an eight-hour class in dust management must be present at each work site to teach workers how to safely contain and clean up lead dust. Exemptions exist when the paint has been tested and is certified as lead-free.

Lead was used as a pigment, preservative and drying agent in oil paint until 1978, when the U.S. Consumer Products Commission banned all but trace amounts. Sanding walls, repairing plaster or even removing carpet can release invisible clouds of lead dust.

In children, lead exposure is associated with lower IQ, behavioral problems and delayed physical development. In adults, lead has been linked to low sperm counts, kidney disease and cardiovascular problems.

Though the rules only apply to paid contractors, Skadowski also encourages home remodelers to go through EPA-certified training so they don’t unknowingly spread lead dust.

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