Renovation, repair, and painting (RRP) rules were created by the EPA to protect building occupants and workers from the hazard of “lead poisoning.” Other federal and local bodies are also concerned about the dangers of lead in construction, making it all more important to be aware of the pertinent regulations before beginning a project in a pre-1978 structure.
Fines and potential legal liability for not adhering to RRP rules can be severe. Staying current with changes to the regulations is especially important to property managers and owners, and recent changes to the law are focused on property management companies (PMCs).
Our aim here is to help make sure you understand the most recent changes to RRP rules and to provide a bit of background information about lead poisoning and why the rules exist in the first place.
The Hazards of Lead-Based Paints and Fixtures
Lead helps prevent corrosion, kills mold, and makes paint dry quicker. For decades, advertisements touted lead as paint’s magic ingredient. Unfortunately, lead is also hazardous to human health — especially as a dust.
During repair, renovation, or painting projects, lead can be released into the air as fine particles. When ingested, the dust from lead can cause high blood pressure, brain damage, miscarriages, and a long list of other maladies.
Children are most at risk. For them, lead dust inhalation or more commonly ingestion can contribute to developmental issues, behavioral issues, difficulty in learning, and other health concerns. The downside of lead is why the CDC stepped in with RRP rules, as lead poisoning is a preventable problem.
The Evolution of RRP Rules
Here is a general timeline of RRP rule development
- In 1971, Congress passed the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act to ban lead-based paint (LBP) in federal residential structures.
- 1978: The Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the residential use of lead in paint to levels above 600 parts per million (ppm). The limit has since been reduced further.
- 1992: Congress enacted the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (Title X), saying “The ingestion of household dust containing lead from deteriorating or abraded lead-based paint is the most common cause of lead poisoning in children.” That bill provided grants “to evaluate and reduce lead-based paint hazards” in non-federal housing projects occupied by low-income residents.
- 1996: Section 1018 of the Title X regulations updated to require disclosure of any known LBP or any known LBP hazards in target housing offered for sale or lease. Applies to the sale or lease of any interest in residential real property.
- 2008: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the first RRP rules to ensure “lead-safe work practices” to prevent lead poisoning. According to the original RRP, all paid contractors conducting repair, renovation, or painting projects in “target” structures built prior to 1978 must adhere. In addition, the owners and occupants must receive the EPA’s “Renovate Right” pamphlet prior to RRP activities.
- 2022: New requirements for RRP certification took effect in March of 2022 to address the role of property management companies in activities that fall within RRP rules.
The list above is meant to summarize LBP and RRP rules, not to describe them fully. Always check for laws affecting your particular project and location before beginning work.
One critical point: RRP rules are “targeted” to homes, schools, and childcare facilities — but also to any other “child occupied structure” — that is to any building frequently visited by children. Hospitals and churches, for instance, may be designated “child occupied.” That may even be true of housing occupied by relatives or friends.
RRP Rule Requirements
Below, we open with the basic actions needed to comply with RRP, highlight the requirements of the Certified Renovator, and close with the fines and penalties should the requirements not be followed.
Basic RRP Rule Requirements:
- The firm overseeing the work must be an EPA Certified Firm
- All workers on a covered project must either be Certified Renovators or receive training from someone who is
- Identify the presence of lead-based paint by using EPA-approved kits or by collecting samples for a qualified laboratory
- Occupants and owners must receive a copy of EPA’s “Renovate Right” pamphlet
- Records of the work must be collected and maintained for at least three years following completion of the project
Requirements for the Certified Renovator:
- Perform, work, and direct lead-safe work practices
- Train non-certified workers as needed and records of that training
- Each project must have an assigned Certified Renovator
- Be physically present while posting signs, containing work areas, and cleaning work areas — must be available by telephone when not on the work site
- Utilize containment procedures to keep dust and debris within the work area
- Conduct cleaning verification procedures and maintain records
Fines and Penalties for RRP Non-compliance
The RRP rules are equipped with stiff penalties for non-compliance:
- If the Certified Renovator fails to comply with RRP rules, the EPA may revoke or modify the employing firm’s certification
- Fines of up to $37,500 per RRP violation may be levied
- If the non-compliance is done knowingly or willingly, the EPA may add an additional $37,500 per violation
Beware of thinking you can slide past the regulations. A California company recently settled with the EPA over RRP failures and must pay $137,804 in civil penalties.
The EPA announcement stated the following:
EPA found that during renovation work at residential properties in Oakland and San Francisco, the GB Group failed to conduct pre-renovation education by not providing the Renovate Right pamphlet to homeowners and adult occupants. The GB Group also failed to assign a certified renovator to each renovation, did not follow work-site lead-safe practices, and failed to develop and maintain required records.
Recent Changes to RRP Rules and How they Affect Property Management
March 21, 2022 updates to the RRP rules apply to property management companies (PMCs), those who live in “target housing” managed by a PMC, and those who work with PMCs on renovation, repair, or painting projects covered by RRP rules.
Under the new regulations, the PMC must be a “Certified Firm” if it uses in-house staff to perform RRP-covered tasks. Furthermore, one of the workers must obtain Certified Renovator status and perform all duties required of that designation. If outside workers are hired, the PMC does not need those certifications, but the firm hired to do the work does.
Please note that RRP violations can subject workers, occupants, and visitors to hazardous environmental conditions. The EPA can and does take action against those who sidestep the requirements of RRP rules.
Points to Consider When Work Covered by RRP Rules Is Planned
Proper planning is critical for RRP work.
- Know which regulations apply. State and local authorities often have their own requirements in addition to the RRP Rules.
- Get advice from a qualified hazardous building material (HBM) expert early in the process. Seasoned professional advice can save you time and money.
- Make sure the contractor and crew hired are properly trained and licensed.
- If you are using in-house staff to complete RRP projects, be sure to obtain Certified Firm status for your company and Certified Renovator credentials for at least one member of your work crew.
If you have questions about RRP rules or any facet of indoor environmental health, FACS experts can help. For further information, call FACS: (888) 711-9998.