Construction Industry Compliance Assistance

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Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule and Lead Abatement Activities Updates

The Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule has been in effect since 2008. It applies to home improvement contractors and building maintenance professionals who perform work for compensation that disturbs lead-based paint in homes or child-occupied facilities built before 1978. Contractors must comply with a set of rules including obtaining certifications, abiding by work practices, and recordkeeping (see CICA for details). RRP projects are typically performed at the option of the property owner for aesthetic or other reasons, or as an interim control to minimize lead hazards. It is NOT designed to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards.

Lead abatement projects are designed to permanently eliminate existing lead-based paint hazards. They may be ordered by a state or local government in response to a lead-poisoned child or other reason, or may be undertaken voluntarily at any time. Lead-based activities are regulated differently than renovation, repair and painting jobs, even though, in some cases, the activities are similar (see CICA for details). 

CICA Center has several important messages for businesses involved in home improvement and lead abatement. 

1. Biden-Harris Administration Proposes to Strengthen Lead Paint Standards to Protect Against Childhood Lead Exposure. On July 12, 2023, EPA announced a proposal to strengthen requirements for the removal of lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 buildings and child care facilities, known as abatement activities, to better protect children and communities from the harmful effects of exposure to dust generated from lead paint. Aligning with the Federal Action Plan on reducing lead exposure to children, these stronger standards would go further to protect children from the dangers of lead exposure, in support of the Biden-Harris Administration's historic investment to reduce lead exposure and EPA's strategy to address the significant disparities in lead exposure along racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines. 

2. Enforcement of the rules has been enhanced. Judging from EPA news releases, enforcement of lead-based paint rules remains a priority at EPA (See: EPA Fines Nine Springfield, Missouri, Home Renovators for Lead-Based Paint Violations, EPA penalizes Anchorage renovation company $25,609 for lead-based paint violations, and EPA Settlements with Two California Firms Help Protect Residents From Lead-Based Paint Health Hazards).  Further, EPA has stepped up enforcement in communities experiencing adverse disproportionate environmental and health risks and harms from lead.  (More information: EPA Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities in U.S. Communities (Oct. 2022).

EPA will also promote geographic initiatives in its ten Regions, focusing efforts on a specific area or community with more than one source of lead exposure. EPA will use mapping, predictive screening, and other tools to identify areas of concern and prioritize enforcement and compliance assurance activities. 

3. The definition of dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS) and dust-lead clearance levels (DLCL) have changed and may be lowered again in the future. EPA's dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS) provide the basis for risk assessors to determine whether dust-lead hazards are present during a risk assessment or a lead hazard screen in pre-1978 homes and childcare facilities. Dust-lead clearance levels (DLCL) are used to evaluate the effectiveness of post abatement cleaning and will reduce dust-lead related risks to children in pre-1978 homes and childcare facilities (where lead abatement activities take place). To achieve clearance when dust sampling is required, values below those levels must be achieved.

EPA first established dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS) and dust-lead clearance levels (DLCL) in 2001 under sections 401, 402, and 403 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  In January 2021, EPA finalized a rule that lowered the DLCL to 10 μg/ft² for floors, 100 μg/ft² for window sills. DLCL for window troughs remained the same at 400 μg/ft². The new clearance levels became effective March 8, 2021. 

In July 2023, EPA proposed updating the dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS) and dust-lead clearance levels (DLCL). The proposal would change the DLHS for floors and window sills to any reportable level greater than zero, as analyzed by any laboratory recognized by EPA's National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program. The new DLCL would be 3 micrograms per square foot (μg/ft²) for floors, 20 μg/ft² for window sills and 25 μg/ft² for window troughs. (Read our fact sheet describing the proposed rule (PDF).

4. Lead-Based Paint Technical Workshop. On October 17 and 18, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will hold a virtual workshop to hear stakeholder perspectives on specific topics related to exposure to lead from existing residential lead-based paint, such as information on the relationship between lead-based paint and dust-lead, possible exposure pathways, and technologies for detection, measurement, and characterization of low levels of lead in paint. Through the workshop, EPA and HUD also seek to obtain new information on lead-based paint characteristics to help with EPA and HUD's reevaluation of the definition of lead-based paint.