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Renovate Right: EPA Lead Standard

Quick Tips #368

On April 22, 2008, the EPA published the final rule: Lead; Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRP), Lead Hazard Information Pamphlet: Notice of Availability; Final Rule, 40 CFR Part 745. This rule requires workers performing lead renovations be trained in using lead-safe practices and requires firms contracting in these fields to be EPA certified and have at least one certified renovator in charge on jobsites. On April 22, 2010, these requirements took effect. State or local requirements can be more stringent than the federal requirements, and if approved by the federal EPA, must be followed in the respective states. As of April 22, 2010, only 6 states had adopted their own programs approved by the federal EPA. To see the current state programs that have been authorized by the EPA click here.

The federal government banned lead-based paint (LBP) from housing in 1978. If a home was built before 1978, it is likely that the home contains lead-based paint. The 2008 rule requires contractors working in homes built prior to 1978 and in child-occupied facilities, to take proper precautions to be lead-safe, this includes minimizing dust, containing the work area and conducting a thorough cleanup to reduce the potential exposure associated with disturbing lead-based paint.

HUD vs. EPA Lead Safe Rules

There are some differences between the EPA RRP rule and the HUD lead safe housing rule (LSHR). The first step in any renovation job where lead is involved is to determine whether the renovation falls under EPA or HUD guidelines, as they use different methods of testing and follow different work practices. EPA-recognized test kits cannot be used to identify if existing paint is not lead based paint (LBP). Only a certified LBP inspector or risk assessor may determine whether LBP is present. The LSHR also requires clearance examinations completed by an independent party, instead of the certified renovator's cleaning verification procedure. All housing receiving federal assistance must comply with the lead safe housing rule under the HUD guidelines.


The first requirement for both EPA and HUD regulations is education. This should be done by providing a copy of the Renovate Right pamphlet to the owner and residents with a signature requirement to the last page of the pamphlet as documentation that this step was completed no more than 60 days prior to the beginning of renovation. This pamphlet can be found and printed from the EPA lead standard website in both English and Spanish. When working in child-occupied facilities, such as a daycare facility, parents or guardians also need to be notified by posting, the description of the work to be done, location of renovation and the work start and end dates, along with a copy of Renovate Right pamphlet as well as information on how to obtain a copy from the EPA website to be located in a common area.

Determine if LBP is Present

Obtain a copy of the deed or other legal document that provides the date of when the structure was built. This will indicate if the structure was built prior to the 1978 year date. If working on an addition, obtain copy of original work permit to provide date of the addition. If either were after 1978, the EPA lead standard does not apply. For structures built prior to 1978, it can be assumed that there will be LBP present and work using the lead-safe practices should begin.

If you are not required to follow the HUD-LSHR, and you are in a state that allows use of test kits as an indicator of LBP, an EPA recognized test kit can be used by the certified renovator to determine if LBP is present and whether the lead-safe practices must be followed. If a test kit is used to become exempt from the rule, a report must be provided to the client within 30 days of work completion, which under the federal lead hazard disclosure law, any owner of the property who receives this report from a renovator must disclose the results—positive or negative—to future buyers and future tenants.

Two other test methods for lead detection are also acceptable, but they must be completed by a certified lead-based paint inspector or risk assessor. These results can be obtained by either x-ray fluorescence testing (requires additional certification and licensing) or paint-chip collection analyzed by a National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program (NLLAP).

The EPA currently recognizes the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) as accrediting organizations for the NLLAP. A current list of NLLAP laboratories can be obtained from the monthly NLLAP list (PDF) or by calling the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

Lead Contaminant Containment

Containment of lead, lead-containing particles, lead dust, etc. is required and varies from basic plastic sheeting floor covering, to completely enclosed work areas. Requirements are different for interior and exterior work. Containment uses temporary barriers to isolate work areas so that debris and dust cannot escape and contaminate other areas. This not only protects the occupants of the residence or facility, but the workers as well. Lead containment also limits the area that needs to be cleaned up after work is complete.

Restricted Access

Before renovation can begin, a warning sign must be posted at every entrance to the work area. Signs must remain in place and be readable at all times during the renovation, cleaning and verification. Once verification is completed, the sign can then be removed. Signs should be in the primary language of the occupants and should say, "Do Not Enter – Authorized Personnel Only" and "No Eating, Drinking Or Smoking." Information can be on separate signs and posted together, or all on one sign, but readable from 20 feet. Exterior renovations should also include an additional perimeter barrier by using either rope or barricade tape to restrict access.

Prohibited Work Practices

EPA lead standard prohibits 3 work practices

  • open flame burning or torching
  • heat guns above 1100°F
  • power sanding, grinding or other removal unless such machines are used with HEPA exhaust control

HUD prohibits 6 work practices. These include EPA's 3 prohibited work practices plus:

  • heat guns that char paint
  • dry scraping or sanding farther than 1 ft. of electrical outlets
  • use of a volatile stripper in poorly ventilated space

State plans may have additions to the prohibited practices that must also be followed in those states, for example Wisconsin also prohibits:

  • Dry sweeping – area must be misted down before sweeping to avoid creating airborne lead dust
  • Use of improperly working HEPA vacuum
  • Power washing – can only be done if you can 100% contain and filter the waste water at efficiency equivalent to that of HEPA filtration
  • Use of chemical strippers that contain methylene chloride

If you anticipate working out of state, remember that many states require you complete their training prior to work. It is a good idea to check state codes or requirements for lead renovation and remediation before you begin work.

Lead Safe Work Practices

  • Remove all belongings and furniture from area that can be removed
  • Cover and seal to floor any remaining objects that could not be removed
  • Cover all work area floors with plastic sheeting (interior minimum of 6 feet, exterior minimum 10 feet in all directions away from the lead paint being disturbed)
  • If using a chemical stripper for removal, a second layer of plastic sheeting is required
  • HUD requires double layer of 6 mil plastic sheeting for all work
  • Close and seal windows, doors and HVAC systems (turning off HVAC is recommended)
  • Create work area doorway with two layers of protective sheeting
  • Remove debris and dust frequently from work area
  • Use wet practices when sanding, cutting and scraping. Mist down area often
  • Place a tack pad outside the work area doorway to remove debris from bottom of feet when leaving the area
  • Must provide way for all workers to wash hands and face before leaving to eat, drink or smoke

Personal Protective Equipment

Respirators – Particulate respirators to protect from inhalation of lead dusts should be worn. Respirable lead requires a NIOSH approved N100, R100 or P100. Particulate respirators will not provide protection from chemical vapors released from paints, finishes, thinners or strippers (Quick Tips #141: Particulate Respirators, 42 CFR Part 84). If disposable respirators are worn, you are then also required to comply with OSHA by establishing a respiratory program, which will include but is not limited to fit testing and a medical evaluation questionnaire. For more information see

Safety glasses/goggles – Like any variation in construction, safety glasses should be worn to protect eyes from flying debris. For fine dust environments, indirect vented goggles provide better protection. Disposable coveralls, shoe covers, gloves and painters cap are not required, but they protect the worker's personal clothing from becoming contaminated and tracking from lead dust back to their personal vehicles, homes and families.


HEPA – Use a properly working HEPA vacuum to clean area from top to bottom.

WASH with a damp cloth to trap and remove any remaining dust.

HEPA – Re-vacuum entire area top to bottom (required only by HUD).

Keep dust from getting back into cleaned area using top to bottom, back-your-way-out method. Clean the floor last. Do not re-enter an area that has already been cleaned. Clean all surfaces, vertical and horizontal, including door tops, window sills, walls and all molding. Wipe down all tools.

Visual Inspection

A visual inspection must be conducted by a Certified Renovator. Once cleaning is complete, visual inspection for dust and debris must be completed in good lighting conditions. If there are no visible signs of dust in the work area or 2 feet beyond work area, verification is then considered complete.

Cleaning Verification

Using a white, wet wipe, wipe down the entire surface of all window sills using a single wipe per sill. Wipe down all floors and counter surfaces with a maximum of 40 square foot per wipe. Compare all wipes to the cleaning verification card. If the wipe matches color or is lighter than the verification card, then the area has been adequately cleaned. Results can be documented (digital photo is suggested), and warning signs can then be removed and job is complete. If color of wipe is darker than verification card, then area must be re-cleaned. Wait one hour or until all surfaces have completely dried, wipe down entire area with an electrostatic-charged, white cleaning cloth. Once this step has been completed, cleaning verification is now considered complete and warning signs can now be removed.

Documentation and Retention

On site requires a copy of the blue certification card and copy of all workers' training records during the entire renovation, cleaning and verification.

After work is complete you must retain records for a minimum of three years. Records should include, but are not limited to:

  • Renovate Right handout with owner/occupant's signature for proof of education
  • All lead-based paint testing results
  • Copy of Certification and noncertified workers' training records
  • Cleaning verification results
  • Proof of posted warnings and detailed description of work area containment

Lead Remediation Shopping Guide


Set It Up Safely

Personal Protective Equipment


Minimize the Dust  

Cleaning Up

  • Detergent or general-purpose cleaner
  • Mop handle
  • Disposable mop heads
  • Two buckets or one two-sided bucket with a wringer
  • Wet mopping system  
  • Electrostatic-charged dry cleaning cloths


EPA information on the RRP Rule

The Lead-Safe Housing Rule

The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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