Containment of the work area is a system of temporary barriers used to isolate a work area so that no dust or debris escapes while the renovation is being performed. Photo courtesy of Zipwall.

Originally set for April 22, 2010, but now delayed until September 30, 2010, all contractors working in a house built in 1978 or before must be aware there is a chance it contains lead paint. The EPA estimates that the rule affects approximately 70 million owners whose homes were built prior to 1978 when lead paint was banned.  Enforcement action begins October 1, 2010.  Enforcement will not occur if the contractor has applied to enroll in or has enrolled in a course for compliance by September 30, 2010.  Training is to be completed by December 21, 2010.

Information concerning lead-safe work practices and training is available at:



Contractors who perform renovation, repairs, and painting jobs should also:

1. Take training to learn how to perform lead-safe work practices.  Names of training providers accredited by EPA to instruct the 8-hour course are available on the EPA site.

2. Provide a copy of your EPA or state lead training certificate to your client.

3. Tell your client what lead-safe methods you will use to perform the job.

4. Learn the lead laws that apply to you regarding certification and lead-safe work practices beginning September 30, 2010.

5. Ask your client to share the results of any previously conducted lead tests.

6. Provide your client with references from at least three recent jobs involving homes built before 1978.

7. Keep records to demonstrate that you and your workers have been trained in lead-safe work practices and that you follow lead-safe work practices on the job. To make recordkeeping easier, you may use the sample recordkeeping checklist that EPA has developed to help contractors comply with the renovation record keeping requirements.

8. Read about how to comply with EPA’s rule in the EPA Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right.

9. Read about how to use lead-safe work practices in the EPA’s Steps to Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting.

NOTE: Contractors and training providers working in Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina, Mississippi, Kansas, Rhode Island, Utah and Oregon must contact the state to find out more about its training and certification requirements. These states are authorized to administer their own RRP programs in lieu of the federal program.

The EPA has accredited training firms teaching an 8-hour class on how contractors are to handle renovations that disturb lead paint. The class is broken down into sessions that include a PowerPoint presentation and hands-on activities. At the conclusion of the class there is a 25 question test. The class fee ranges between $150 and $400. If you pass the written test with a grade of 68% or better and demonstrate the hands-on portion, you may become a Certified Renovator. The responsibilities of the Certified Renovator include: being present for set-up of the containment area, training employees how to use lead safe work practices and to clean up the renovation area.

The Certified Renovator has a choice of performing a test using a lead check swab or by assuming that the house contains lead. If assumed, all lead safe work practices must be followed. If a contractor is caught working in a house that contains lead, he can be fined $32,000. If proven that the contractor willfully knew the house contained lead and still did not use lead safe work practices, the additional fine is $32,000 and imprisonment. All individuals working on a Renovation, Repair and Painting project (RRP) must either be  Certified Renovators or be trained by a Certified Renovator in lead safe work practices.

A Certified Renovator must either be employed by a Renovation Firm or if the person is a subcontractor, the firm must be designated as a Renovation Firm. The EPA requires firms to submit an application and pay a fee of $300 to become a renovation firm. Certifications are good for 5 years. Any retailer who subcontracts or employs contractors working in target houses, schools and childcare facilities built pre-1978 will be required to become a Renovation Firm. The Renovation Firm requirements are: distributing the “Lead Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right Pamphlet,” getting signed confirmation of receipt of this pamphlet from the customer, employment of at least one Certified Renovator and keeping all required RRP records for 3 years. The required records include: Pre-renovation education documentation (proof of receipt, proof of delivery, waivers, etc), documentation of lead-based paint, training and certification records and cleaning verification records.   CFI was informed the first of June that, “If a company or contractor is not disturbing more than 6 square feet on the interior or 20 square feet on the exterior, the rule does not apply and therefore there is no need to issue the pamphlet.”

The RRP rule exclusions include the following: renovations where affected components do not contain lead-based paint, emergency renovations, but still requires cleanup and cleaning verification, minor repair and maintenance activities and renovations performed by homeowners in their own homes. Minor repair and maintenance activities have been defined in the rule as follows:

• Interior work disturbing less than 6 square feet per room of painted surface, unless this involves window replacement, demolition, or prohibited practices

• Exterior work disturbing less than 20 square feet of painted surface

• The entire surface area of a removed component is the amount of painted surface disturbed.

• Prohibited practices include: open flame burning or torching, heat gun above 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit and power tool usage without HEPA vacuum attachment. The HEPA vacuum has not been defined on which specific type is to be used yet, but soon will.

The RRP rule is enforced by the U.S. EPA. The RRP rules apply to RRP activities conducted in target housing, schools and child-occupied facilities. The target housing is defined as any house that has a child 6 years or younger or a pregnant woman. Children under six are most at risk from small amounts of lead because their bodies are developing. During normal and frequent playing or hand-to mouth activity, children may swallow or inhale dust from their hands, toys, food or other objects.

Lead Containment Procedures

• Containment of the work area is a system of temporary barriers used to isolate a work area so that no dust or debris escapes while the renovation is being performed. The benefits of containment include: protecting workers and residents, preventing the spread of dust to the rest of the house or building or neighboring properties and easier cleanup.

• Interior containment starts by posting signs and limiting access to the work area. You must notify residents to stay away from the work area.

• Where practicable, remove all belongings and furniture from the work area. If they cannot be moved, then you are required to move them to a section farthest away from the work area and cover the items with plastic.

• Secure protective sheeting to the floor with tape. Cover floors a minimum of 6’ in all directions around the paint being disturbed.

• If a chemical stripper is used, lay a second layer of plastic.

• Lay plastic in all traffic areas leading from outside the containment area to the work area. It is recommended to use a tack pad at the end of the plastic walkway so dust on the bottom of shoes or shoe covers will remain in the containment area.

• Make certain that all doors and windows are closed. If a doorway is being used as access, then a plastic entry must be created. To do this, tape a sheet of plastic three inches wider than the doorway to the frame and floor with painter’s tape.

• Cut a vertical slit down the plastic, 6” from the top and 12” from the bottom in the center of the plastic.

• Next, 12” from the bottom cut a horizontal slit that is 12” from each side.

• All 3 cut edges are to be taped.

• Cut another section of plastic the same length and same width and tape it over the first plastic sheeting, securing only at the top.

• At the bottom, roll a broom handle on the plastic and tape to the bottom of the plastic 2” off the ground to keep the second section taunt.

• Also, seal off the HVAC openings or vents and electrical outlets, either with plastic or magnet covers. Now you are ready to proceed with the renovation.

Protecting yourself and your workers is very important. Required clothing and gear and working procedures include:

• Disposable painter’s hat

• Disposable coveralls

• Disposable n-100, r-100 pr p-100 respirator

• Goggles

• Shoe covers

• Hands and face must be washed at the end of each shift.

• Workers are forbidden to eat, drink or smoke in the work area.

• At the end of each shift, workers should HEPA vacuum their clothing and shoes before leaving the containment area.

• Remove gloves and face and hands are to be washed

• Dispose of all used disposable clothing in plastic bags.

I won’t cover exterior containment because as floor covering installers a majority of our work is interior. At the class for Certified Renovators, exterior containment is covered.

After the renovation is completed comes the cleanup. This is the most critical part of the entire job. It is our responsibility to make sure that no lead paint is left behind for the consumer. The cleanup begins by first using a HEPA vacuum to clean walls and vertical surfaces from top to bottom. This includes window sills and inside the window box. Even though the window may have been sealed, lead dust may be present. Next wipe from top to bottom with either disposable wipes or clean white cloths with hot water and detergent. Always work from the farthest area away from the entry to the entry. Before any plastic is removed, mist with water to keep the dust from becoming airborne. When you reach the floor and have misted the plastic on the floor, fold the top of the plastic dirty side in. Take special precautions for carpets. Seal all plastic into heavy duty garbage bags and seal the top with a gooseneck seal. This means that approximately 12” at the top of the bag is to be twisted and folded over in half and sealed with tape.

Now that clean-up is complete, it is important to check the effectiveness of the cleaning.  First is the visual inspection. A thorough visual inspection is the main part of checking your cleanup. Put on disposable foot covers before entering the work area. Make sure there is adequate lighting in the work area. If needed bring in a spotlight or a bright white flashlight. Look for dust and debris on every horizontal surface in the work area and 2-feet beyond. Work from the farthest area from the entry to the entry.  If you find visual dust then clean again. The next step is the cleaning verification procedure (CV). Wipe each window sill within the work area, using a single wet disposable cleaning cloth per sill.

Wipe uncarpeted floors and all countertops with wet disposable cleaning cloths. Wipe up to a maximum of 40 square feet per cloth. Compare each wipe to the CV card. If the cloth matches or is lighter than the card, the surface has passed cleaning verification and no further action is required. If the cloth is darker than the CV card, clean again and repeat the CV process. If the second wet cloth fails, wait 1-hour or until the surface is dry and wipe with an electrostatically-charged white disposable cleaning cloth designed to be used for cleaning hard surfaces. This completes the cleaning verification.

We must realize that this not only affects the flooring installers, but those who sell the flooring as well.  I also realize this is an involved process and we ask ourselves if the government is getting carried away with rules and regulations. But, lead poisoning is a very serious situation. I look at this in two different ways. First, as a father of four, what would happen if one of my children at an early age was poisoned? What would happen if I as a contractor poisoned a child? I would want to do the right thing and make sure that my jobsite was lead-free. On the other hand as a contractor, I have to wonder what my liability is. I still think the right thing to do is to follow the EPA guidelines by removing lead dust and debris from our jobsite.  I also must consider the equipment that must be purchased, the training, the time involved and how the costs will be passed on to those for whom I am working.  They cannot be absorbed by the flooring contractor. 

CFI is in direct contact with the EPA as to the manner in which all of this affects flooring installers.  You may also visit  On the right side of the page, click “Answers to Your Questions.”  There are only a few concerning flooring, so we suggest that many questions be posed by numerous individuals to encourage dialogue in reference to flooring installation. Consider this; if the flooring installation disturbs no more than 6 square feet of painted surface per room, the job is not covered by the RRP Rule. Stay tuned; we will have more information in the next few weeks  from the EPA.