Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair, and Painting

Information for Homeowners, Contractors, Landlords, and Tenants

Some renovation and remodeling activities can increase the risk of lead exposure. Homes built before 1978 contain lead-based paint, often under newer paint. If you disturb the painted surface with a repair project or are planning to renovate or remodel an older home, it's important to do the job safely. Lead paint dust or chips can cause serious health problems. Children and pregnant women should stay away from work areas until the area is clean.

Reducing Lead Hazards During Remodeling

When it comes to lead, you can WORK WET, WORK CLEAN and WORK SMART without much cost or effort. Here's how to keep lead dust and fumes to a minimum:

  1. Prepare the work area. Use plastic sheeting to cover floors, furnishings and other items that may collect lead dust. Sheeting isn't expensive, and should be disposed of after the job.
  2. Think about methods that won't create a lot of dust or fumes. For example, use a spray bottle filled with water to soak any surface to be scraped, sanded or otherwise disturbed.
  3. When cleaning up, use a wet mop with a detachable head. Throw out the mop head after you're done cleaning. Shop vacs are not good for cleanup since they wind up spreading around lead dust.

Fix Lead Hazards Safely

If you work on pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities where lead-based paint is disturbed (including certain repairs, maintenance and painting activities), you must be trained in lead-safe work practices. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that if you disturb more than 6 square feet of interior surface or 20 square feet of exterior surface, you must be certified in Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP Rule). Although the RRP Rule does not apply to homeowners renovating, repairing, or painting their own homes, do-it-yourself projects can easily create dangerous lead dust.