Protect Your Family From Lead


Contractors: Lead Safety During Renovation

As a paint contractor, you play an important role in protecting public health by helping prevent lead exposure. Ordinary renovation and maintenance activities can create dust that contains lead –– even small amounts of lead can harm children and adults.

New rules for contractors

Beginning in April 2010, contractors performing work that disturbs lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must:

  • Be EPA certified, and
  • Follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

To learn more about how you can meet these requirements contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323) or visit EPA's Lead website.

Be prepared for these new requirements. Adopt the following simple practices and you can work safely with lead.

Talk to the residents

Explain the steps you will take to protect residents from lead:

  • Set up work areas that will not expose residents.
  • Minimize the dust.
  • Leave the work area clean.

When working in homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978 you must provide the Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools (PDF) (20 pp, 3.2MB) pamphlet to residents, or the facility operator before the job begins. You must also provide information to families whose children attend the child care facility or school.

Set up safe work areas

Select appropriate personal protective equipment

  • Review the lead-safety shopping list contained in this pamphlet to determine what items you need to safely perform the work.
  • Ensure your workers have appropriate eye wear, clothing, and respiratory protection for the job.

The work area should be contained so that no dust or debris leaves the work area.

What to do inside:

  • Use signs to keep residents and pets out of the work area.
  • Remove furniture and belongings, or cover them securely with heavy plastic sheeting.
  • Use heavy plastic sheeting to cover floors and other fixed surfaces like large appliances in the work area.
  • When appropriate, use heavy plastic sheeting to separate the work area from the rest of the residence.
  • Close and seal vents in the work area and, if necessary, turn off forced-air heating and air conditioning systems.

What to do outside:

  • Mark off the work area to keep non-workers away.
  • Cover the ground and plants with heavy plastic sheeting.
  • Close windows and doors near the work area.
  • Move or cover play areas near the work area.

Minimize the dust

You should use work practices that minimize dust:

  • Mist areas before sanding, scraping, drilling, and cutting.
  • Score paint before separating components.
  • Pry and pull apart components instead of pounding and hammering.
  • Always use a shroud with HEPA vacuum attachment when using power tools and equipment.

Do not use these dangerous practices when working with lead-based paint:

  • Open flame burning or torching.
  • Sanding, grinding, planing, 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°F.

Leave the work area clean

On a daily basis you should:

  • Put trash and debris in heavy-duty plastic bags.
  • Wrap waste building components, such as windows and doors, in heavy plastic sheeting and tape shut.
  • Ensure everything, including tools, equipment, and even workers, are free of dust and debris before leaving the work area.
  • HEPA vacuum the work area.
  • Wash up and change out of work clothes before you and your workers go home. Remember, you do not want to bring lead-based paint dust home and expose your family.
  • Remind residents to stay out of the work area.

When the job is complete, you should also:

  • Remove the plastic sheeting carefully, mist with water, fold dirty side in, tape shut, and dispose of it.
  • HEPA vacuum all surfaces, including walls.
  • Wash the work area with a general purpose cleaner.
  • Check your work carefully for lead dust because hazardous amounts may be minute and not easily visible. If you see any dust or debris, then re-clean the area.
  • Perform a final clean-up check. Use disposable cleaning cloths to wipe the floor of the work area and compare them to a cleaning verification card to determine if the work area was adequately cleaned.
  • To order a cleaning verification card and detailed instructions visit our lead website or contact theNational Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

These simple practices ensure that your jobs are better, cleaner, and safer. Your customers will notice the difference.

To learn more about working safely with lead and upcoming requirements, contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323) or visit EPA's Lead website.

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