Questions and Answers about the Lead Paint Rule


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation, Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting, went into effect on April 22, 2010.

To work legally in pre-1978 homes, remodelers must submit an application to certify their firm with the EPA and pay a fee. The remodeler must also employ a certified renovator (by completing EPA-approved training) at the remodeling firm. Search the EPA’s website for approved training providers or contact your local home builders’ association to find training.

Remodelers without firm certification and no certified renovator on staff should avoid working in homes built before 1978. The business and legal consequences of violating the rule could be disastrous, resulting in large fines from the EPA.

Here are some questions and answers about working under the lead paint rule.

  • What are the requirements of the EPA’s Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting regulation?
    The regulation requires renovators working for compensation in homes built before 1978, whose activities disturb paint more than six square feet for interiors and 20 square feet for exteriors become:

    Anyone working in target housing is subject to the rule, including carpenters, HVAC workers, insulation installers, electricians, plumbers and even volunteers (such as Habitat for Humanity or Rebuilding Together workers).

    Remodelers must obtain firm certification, by paying a fee of $300 to the EPA and submitting a firm certification form. These firms must also employ an EPA-certified renovator who has successfully taken an eight-hour training course from an EPA-approved training provider.

    Before starting the home renovation, the remodeler must provide customer education by giving a copy of the Renovate Right pamphlet and having them sign a form confirming receipt of pre-renovation education. The remodeler must also post warning signs, contain the work area around paint disturbances, clean up and safely dispose of dust and debris, and conduct cleaning verification. The certified renovator oversees the activities to ensure compliance with the rule. Additionally, the firm must keep records of its work under the rule for at least three years.

  • I do not plan to do any renovation work in pre-1978 housing. Must I be a certified renovator to distribute the Renovate Right brochure to potential clients?
    No, an individual does not need to be a certified renovator to comply with the “information distribution requirements,” nor does the firm need to be certified to perform this specific task.
  • What’s the difference between a certified firm and a certified renovator?
    A certified firm is approved by the EPA to conduct remodeling business in pre-1978 housing. A certified renovator is approved to carry out remodeling work practices described in the terms of the EPA’s lead paint rule. A single-person company must take the certified renovator training and also register the firm with the EPA. The registration fee for certifying the firm is $300. There is no fee for certification of the renovator but the renovator pays the training fee which is set by the training provider.
  • If my firm is certified, do I need to have a certified renovator?
    Yes, a certified firm must have a certified renovator on staff to carry out work practices and other requirements described in the rule. Firm certification is valid for five years.
  • What does the certification training entail?
    A certified renovator must successfully complete an eight-hour initial training course, including two hours of hands-on training offered by an accredited training provider. The course completion certificate serves as proof of certification.
  • Does the certified renovator need to be on the job at all times?
    The certified renovator must be available to oversee setting up containment, clean up and cleaning verification. The certified renovator must also be available by telephone or stay onsite if requested by the client.
  • Will my subcontractors need to be certified?
    Subcontractors working in target housing need to be certified or supervised by a certified renovator to follow rule requirements. Subcontractors may be treated like non-certified workers and can be trained onsite by a certified renovation and supervised accordingly.
  • I’m waiting to hear back from the EPA on my firm certification, what should I do?
    The EPA is taking up to 60 days to reply to firm certification applications. The approval time may be longer if the form is missing information or has errors. If more than 60 days has passed, contact the EPA at 800-424-LEAD.
  • Where can I find resources for my customers that explains this rule?
    Download the EPA brochure, Renovate Right, which can be photocopied or sent to a professional printer for duplication. Bulk copies are also available for purchase from the Government Printing Office. Individual copies can be acquired by calling the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD.
  • What do I need to know about the lead testing kits?
    Information regarding recognized test kits is available at on the EPA website.

    Two test kits are available nationally: LeadCheck and D-Lead. Massachusetts has a test kit approved only for use within the state. Many home test kits for lead are unreliable.

    The certified renovator is only required to use one spot test kit for each component, even if the surface of the component is extensive (e.g., a large wall).

    The kits can only be used on surfaces for which they have been approved. It is also important to follow the instructions of the kit for best results.

    The renovation firm must retain records of paint testing for five years. In addition, when test kits are used, the renovation firm must, within 30 days of the completion of the renovation, provide identifying information as to the manufacturer and model of the test kits used, a description of the components that were tested including their locations, and the test kit results to the person who contracted for the renovation.

    NAHB has continued to express concern that the test kits do not meet the lead rule’s requirements for accuracy. While the approved test kits meet the standard for false negative, they do not meet the EPA’s standard for false positive. This means that the kits are more sensitive to the presence of lead than the EPA standard. In these cases, components may falsely test positive for regulated lead content, unnecessarily triggering the requirements of the lead rule.

    If a remodeler suspects that a spot test kit’s result is inaccurate, he/she can either operate as though lead is present and apply the work practices, take paint chip samples from components and send them to an EPA-recognized laboratory, or hire a risk assessor/lead inspector to determine if lead is present.

  • Will the EPA training courses be tailored to include state specific requirements and differences between states’ programs?
    No. However, the EPA encourages training providers to include pertinent state requirements where they apply.
  • What changes in a firm’s status require an amendment of certification and how much will it cost?
    In accordance with § 745.89(c), any change to the information reported to the EPA in a firm’s most recent certification application must be reported in an amended certification application. There is no cost associated with the submission of an amended certification. Possible amendments may include a change of address, phone number, principle of the company, adding a certified renovator, or deleting a certified renovator.
  • How thick should the plastic sheeting be?
    A contractor should choose one or more layers of plastic sheeting of a sufficient thickness to prevent puncture based on the circumstances of the particular project. The performance standard in this regulation requires firms to isolate the work area, prevent dust and debris from exiting, and ensure plastic sheeting is not torn or displaced. Certain other guidance materials, such as HUD’s Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint in Hazards in Housing, recommend the use of six mil plastic sheeting.
  • Do the cleaning wipes from the cleaning verification process need to keep as a part of the recordkeeping requirements?
    No, but the results of the cleaning verification, including number of wet and dry clothes used, must be documented.
  • What does a certified renovator’s certificate look like? What safeguards does the EPA intend to avoid counterfeiting of certificates?
    The course completion certificate for the renovator and dust sampling technician courses shall include:
    • The name
    • A unique identification number
    • Address of the individual
    • The name of the particular course that the individual completed
    • Dates of course completion/test passage
    • The name, address, and telephone number of the training program
    • The language in which the course was taught
    • A photograph of the individual
  • What do I do about my remodeling contract language?
    NAHB has created sample contract language for adapting remodeling contracts to the lead paint regulation. These sample contract templates are a member-only benefit available for download from the website.
  • How do I handle general liability insurance?
    Many general liability insurance policies contain some form of a pollution exclusion, which may or may not explicitly include lead. It is an open question whether claims regarding lead-based paint would be covered under these policies. The best way to insure you have adequate coverage is to contact your insurer about the regulation and inquire about any changes that may need to be made to your policy.
  • What future changes to the rule is the EPA planning to propose?
    EPA amended the lead rule in May 2010 and August 2011. The major change from the May 2010 amendment was the removal of the consumer choice opt-out provision of the rule. The major change from the August 2011 amendment was to define vertical containment and allow certified renovators to take paint chip samples.
    Also, EPA has begun its rulemaking process for establishing a renovation, repair and painting rule for commercial and public buildings. NAHB is closely following the EPA’s actions regarding the rule and will be commenting and asking members to submit comments on proposed rule changes.
  • How is the lead rule being enforced?
    NAHB has learned that various EPA regional offices have begun investigations and enforcement actions against firms under the lead rule. Inspectors are requesting documentation including:
    • Proof of Certified Renovator and Certified Firm status
    • Pre-Renovation Disclosure firms, which affirms that customers have received the Renovate Right from the Certified Renovator
    • Records for each job conducted in pre-1978 housing. This includes the documentation recording any use of lead test kits and their results, and the Certified Renovator checklist outlining lead-safe work practices and other requirements of the rule for each job.

NAHB has developed lead rule compliance resources and sample documents for NAHB members. These tools can help prepare contractors and fulfill the record keeping requirements of the rule.

  • Will the rule be enforced through the EPA or local and state governments?
    The federal lead paint rule will be enforced by the EPA. However, individual state governments can elect to create and then enforce their own lead paint regulations equivalent to or stricter than federal regulations. Check the EPA website for a list of states who have authorized their own lead paint program.
  • Any advice on how to market myself as lead certified?
    Remodelers can use the training and certification of the lead paint rule requirements to demonstrate their commitment to education, keeping home owners and their families safe, and business professionalism.
    The EPA is providing certified firms with a lead-safe certified logo. This logo can be used on promotional materials and marketing to demonstrate your qualifications under the rule.
  • Where can I find answers to questions about the rule?
    The EPA has a question and answer website for detailed questions about the rule’s requirements. Search for questions and answers, or post a question to be answered by the EPA staff.

To learn more about the lead rule and NAHB’s actions to prepare remodelers visit our lead paint page.