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Painters and remodelers beware! EPA is cracking down

September 21, 2021

EPA is cracking down on enforcement of lead-based painting practices

If you perform work covered by the RRP and you are not certified, you could face thousands of dollars in fines,. Even worse – you could be responsible for harming your clients.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) program works to minimize exposure from lead-based paint dust during renovation, repair, or painting activities. Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and interior demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips by disturbing lead-based paint, which can be harmful to adults and children.

The RRP program requires anyone who is paid to perform renovation, repair and painting work that disturbs lead-based paint in homes and apartments (built before 1978) to be certified by a recognized EPA/Washington Department of Commerce accredited training program.

Becoming a Certified Renovation Contractor requires taking a one-day training course that educates contractors on the best practices of handling lead-based paint. The course includes a short application to the EPA to become officially certified. Certified Renovation Contractors are then responsible for providing on-the-job training in lead-safe work practices to their staffs. EPA certification for both firms and individuals is good for five years.

To find an accredited trainer in your area, contact BIAW at 360-352-7800 x106 or

Must have a certified renovator on staff

Each contractor must have a certified renovator on staff (and assigned to each jobsite where lead-based paint renovation work is being performed) who follows specific work practices to prevent lead contamination if lead-based paint is present. Property managers and landlords who perform repair and maintenance activities in pre-1978 rental housing, or space rented by child-care facilities, must have a certified renovator on staff and have a firm certification. Property managers and landlords may hire an RRP certified firm that employs a certified renovator in lieu of becoming RRP certified.

Included activities

In general, any activity that disturbs paint in pre-1978 housing is covered, including:

  • Remodeling and repair/maintenance;
  • Electrical work;
  • Plumbing;
  • Painting preparation;
  • Carpentry; and
  • Window


The following housing or activities are not covered by the RRP:

  • Housing built in 1978 or later;
  • Housing specifically for elderly or disabled persons, unless children under 6 reside or are expected to reside there;
  • “Zero-bedroom” dwellings (studio apartments, dormitories, );
  • Housing or components declared lead-free by a certified inspector or risk assessor. Also, a certified renovator may declare specific components lead-free using an EPA recognized test kit or by collecting paint chip samples for analysis by an EPA recognized laboratory; and
  • Minor repair and maintenance activities that disturb 6 square feet or less of paint per room inside, or 20 square feet or less on the exterior of a home or building. (Note: Window replacement, and partial and full demolition activities, are always covered regardless of square footage. Activities designated as “prohibited” are prohibited regardless of square footage.).

Paint testing

Paint testing is not required by the RRP Rule, but unless you have documentation that the paint is not lead-based, then the requirements of the RRP Rule apply. When in doubt, it’s best to get paint tested OR assume that lead-based paint is present.

If you or your client chooses to have the paint tested prior to renovation, testing must be done by the appropriate qualified professional on all surfaces to be affected by the work.

Type of Paint Testing for Renovations Who Can Do the Testing?
EPA-recognized test kits Certified renovators
X-Ray Fluorescence instruments Certified lead-based paint inspectors or risk assessors
Paint chip sampling Certified renovator, inspector or risk assessor

Record-Keeping Requirements

The following records must be retained for three years following the completion of a renovation:

Common Compliance Issues

  • Failure to not take the Certified Renovation Contractor accredited course
  • Failure to provide lead hazard information pamphlet to property owners
  • Failure to post signs clearly defining the work area and warning individuals not involved in the renovation activities to remain outside the work area
  • Failing to isolate the work area while renovation work is being performed
  • Failing to using prohibit the use of machines designed to remove paint or other surface coatings through high speed operation such as sanding, grinding, power planning, needle gun, abrasive blasting, or sandblasting without HEPA vacuum attachment
  • Failing to contain waste from renovation activities to prevent releases of dust and debris before the waste is removed from the work area for storage or disposal
    • Doors, windows, and ground should be covered with plastic sheeting or other disposable impermeable material while work is being performed
  • Failure to maintain records accordingly (see record-keeping requirements above)
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