What lead safe work practices should look like

The EPA's new Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule is a federal law that requires contractors that are hired to perform renovation, repair and painting projects in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 that disturb painted surfaces to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

The work practices the contractor must follow include three procedures, described below:

  1. Contain the work area. The area must be contained so that dust and debris do not escape from that area. Warning signs must be put up and plastic or other impermeable material and tape must be used as appropriate to:

    • Cover the floors and any furniture that cannot be moved
    • Seal off doors and heating and cooling system vents.

    These will prevent dust or debris from getting outside the work area.

  2. Avoid renovation methods that generate large amounts of lead-contaminated dust. Some methods generate so much lead-contaminated dust that their use is prohibited. They are:

    • Open flame burning or torching.
    • Sanding, grinding, planning, needle gunning, or blasting with power tools and equipment not equipped with a shroud and HEPA vacuum attachment.
    • Using a heat gun at temperatures greater than 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.

    There is no way to eliminate dust, but some renovation methods make less dust than others. Contractors may choose to use various methods to minimize dust generation, including using water to mist areas before sanding or scraping; scoring paint before separating components; and prying and pulling apart components instead of breaking them.

  3. Clean up thoroughly. The work should be cleaned up daily to keep it as clean as possible. When all the work is done, the area must be cleaned up using special cleaning methods before taking down any plastic that isolates the work area from the rest of the home. The special cleaning methods should include:

    • Using a HEPA vacuum to clean up dust and debris on all surfaces, followed by
    • Wet wiping and wet mopping with plenty of rinse water.

    When the final cleaning is done, look around. There should be no dust, paint chips, or debris in the work area. If you see any dust, paint chips, or debris, the area must be re-cleaned.

To learn more about how to renovate, see the EPA's Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right.

Accessing your unit during lead hazard control

According to the Illinois Lead Poisoning Prevention Code, occupants and pets shall use different entrances and exits that do not require passage through the work area. The contractor shall create an uncontaminated passage for entrance and exit of all building occupants. If the entrance to and from a building can only be through the work area, the contractor shall provide an enclosed passage through the work area, which serves as an air-tight isolation barrier from the work area and is to be used for entering and exiting from the building. Restricted access to each work area shall remain in place until work is completed, final clean-up is finished, and the final dust clearance samples have passed inspection.

The air-tight enclosed passage must remain in place until work is complete and the final clean-up is finished.

Homes that are federally owned or receive federal assistance (for example, Section 8 tenant-based rental assistance or public housing) must follow the federal regulations in HUD's Lead-Safe Housing Rule.

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Additional information for…
Property owners
  • The do's and don'ts of home renovation
  • What to look for in a lead contractor
  • How to find a lead contractor
  • Required disclosures to tenants
Tenants
  • Right of inspection
  • Right of notification of lead hazards
  • Notifying landlords about possible lead in homes
  • If a landlord won't address a lead hazard
Childcare providers
  • Childcare provider responsibilities
  • Educational information
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