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Your Interactive Resource for EPA RRP Information

RRPedia logoLooking for accurate information about the EPA RRP rule?

RRPedia has been created by Shawn McCadden to help remodelers and others affected by the New EPA Renovation Repair and Painting Rule. 

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A Fast, Clean and Safe Way to Remove Lead Paint: Guest Blog

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Apr 10, 2011 @ 06:00 AM

A Fast, Clean and Safe Way to Remove Lead Paint

Catherine Brooks

One Person’s Opinion: Catherine Brooks, MBA is the owner of a small business, Eco-Strip LLC since 2003. Previous to starting this second business, she owned a consulting practice and worked for 20 years with small private companies, local and state governments, and OSHA. Her specialties were public health, recycling, and executive training. She comes from the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. There she learned the hard way that moisture can destroy a paint job. She regrets that she power-washed her older home several years ago and SOON will now have to repaint it.  


A Fast, Clean and Safe Way to Remove Lead Paint

Good painters know that surface preparation before repainting is critical for quality and longevity of new paint. They also know that thick paint removal is a pain. Plus, most paint applied before 1978 is lead-based. With the new EPA's RRP rule, dry abrasive methods such as power sanding, power planing, and mechanical scraping without vacuum attachments are prohibited; so is high temperature heat gun usage. These methods create and disperse lead dust, chips, and vapors which are seriously harmful to children and adults. Some contractors are upset with the requirements imposed by RRP, but the US is way behind European countries in regard to lead paint safety.


Airborne leaded dust chart


In the late 1980s, a safer and more eco-friendly method was developed in Sweden by a historic restoration painter. This method uses mid-range, infrared heat waves to heat both the substrate and the paint at a lower temperature. Therefore, it greatly reduces the hazards of removing lead-based paint in three ways:

  1. Metallic lead vaporizes at 1,100°F (the temperature at which high heat guns operate). The mid-range infrared heat waves heat the paint and wood only to 400-600º F. Dangerous lead fumes are not released. 
  2. Containing lead dust is difficult and costly but critical to prevent operator, building occupants, and the environment from being contaminated. The scraping of the soft paint created by the infrared heat generates minimum dust; dry scraping, sanding or shaving paint creates lots.
  3. The soft paint scrapings clump together and drop onto a plastic sheeting; they are easier to contain and bag up. While pressure washing surfaces may be faster, it leaves water full of paint chips in the work area’s soil, making it difficult to clean up without removing the top soil itself. Use of toxic or non-toxic chemical paint removers leaves messy goo also difficult to contain.

Dry scraping lead paintAnother key consideration in paint removal is the impact on wood, especially old, more valuable wood. Chemicals leach out natural resins and leave residue even after rinsing. High heat (1,100ºF) guns force paint pigment back into the wood and risk scorching and igniting wood. Sanding and shaving leave gouge and burn marks if not done skillfully. Pressure washing and new steam paint removal methods often leave irregular surface marks in the wood, drive moisture back into the wood, and create layers of “gray wood” which must be scraped away and or they will threaten the adherence of new paint.  All of these methods can damage wood.

Infrared heat paint removal can be the gentlest process on the wood. The infrared heat penetrates into the wood and pulls up natural resins, paint, and moisture deep within and rejuvenates the old wood. Yet, the lower temperature of 400-600° F. minimizes the risk of scorching the wood or catching it on fire. The stories of these heat gun fires are legendary.

Infrared paint removal The time for the entire surface preparation process is reduced using the infrared heat method. Set up, operation, and cleanup are faster than with other methods. There is no extra time for rinsing, neutralization, drying, or sanding the wood; it is immediately ready for primer.

Since there are several brands of infrared paint removers on the market, look for these qualities:

  • UL listing to verify safety testing.
  • Shock absorbers to reduce bulb breakage.
  • Automatic, overheat shut-off mechanism to prevent damage to the machine and the wood and to prevent paint overheating.
  • Built-in safety shields extending beyond the infrared bulbs that set the correct distance between the bulbs and the painted wood. These shields eliminate the operator’s guesswork about what distance is safe yet effective and also reduce overheating.
  • Comprehensive instruction materials and training videos to assure quick operator proficiency, safe operation, and proper maintenance of the machine.

Infrared heat for paint removal is a new technology whose time has come. Preservation of older homes rather than demolition is growing. People are choosing to rejuvenate their old homes for aesthetic, historic, and ecological reasons. Infrared paint removal offers a safer, gentler, and more ecological method to remove lead-based paint and bringing old wood back to life.

Contact: Catherine Brooks, Eco-Strip LLC with questions at cbrooks@eco-strip.com. Further information is at www.eco-strip.com

Topics: Technology for Remodelers, Guest Blogs, Compliance Options, Work Practices, Work Practice Exclusions, Tools and Supplies

Videos About The EPA RRP Rule

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Oct 15, 2010 @ 08:00 AM

New Shawn McCadden Videos About The EPA RRP Rule; RRP Information For Renovators

RRP Instructor Shawn McCaddenI recently completed a series of seven videos about the new EPA RRP rule. The RRP videos were done for Remodeling magazine. They are posted to the Remodeling TV area of Remodeling magazine’s web site.

The videos are sponsored by The Home Depot. The video series is titled “The Insider's Guide to the EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule”. The series covers critical information about the Environmental Protection Agency's RRP rule and certification process, and explains how the rule may affect your business.

I had a lot of fun doing the videos. Lots of great people donated their time, knowledge and expertise. I also learned a lot from Chuck Green of Perpetual Motion Pictureswriting the script, interviewing contributors, editing the script with the magazine’s editor Sal Alfano, reviewing the raw footage, and working with the videographer, Chuck Greeen of Perpetual Motion Pictures. Working with Chuck was a unique advantage. As a fellow remodeler and Certified Renovator, Chuck not only filmed and edited the videos, he also contributed greatly to the content and success of the whole project.

Here is a list of the videos, a brief description of what is discussed in each as well as links to view them:

Video One: The EPA RRP Rule and Your Business

This video covers the business responsibilities, associated liabilities and risks related to the RRP Rule. Kermit Baker, Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies stresses that remodelers need to become experts in this area or leave the work to others who are. Attorney Mike Sams of Kenney & Sams, P.C. warns about the legal liabilities for failure to follow the regulations. Shawn McCadden discusses the firm and worker certification process, related fees as well as certified renovator and firm responsibilities.


Video Two: RRP Training

This video covers the worker training requirements of the rule and the content of the EPA Certified Renovator training class. Shawn McCadden also discusses the importance and benefits of choosing a training class conducted by a training instructor with real life renovation experience.


Video Three: EPA RRP Notification Requirements

The EPA RRP rule specifies certain notification requirements depending on where the work is done and who occupies and or visits the building being renovated. This video covers these requirements, related firm documentation requirements as well as the information and documentation that must be given to property owners and others. Shawn McCadden also discusses many of the important details that must be included in the required documentation.


Video Four: RRP Work Practices

This video includes a summary of the required lead-safe work practices required under the RRP Rule. Shawn McCadden walks through critical considerations related to the rule that must be followed to stay in compliance with the rule, protect occupants and workers and to control costs. Shawn also discusses interior and exterior cleaning and cleaning verification requirements.


Video Five: RRP Record Keeping

Inspection of the required documentation under the rule will be a major enforcement tool used by EPA. In this video Shawn McCadden discusses the required documentation related to worksite activities as well as many business administration activities. Mark Paskell of the Contractor Coaching Partnership shares a few of the many methods EPA will have at their disposal to inspect and verify a firm’s compliance with the rule. Shawn adds several more methods to Mark’s list and also discusses the penalties and fines EPA can assess on violators.


Video Six: Exemptions to RRP Work Practices

In this video Shawn McCadden gives examples of when, where and why the RRP rule and work practices are not required under the rule. Shawn stresses that even if the work practices are not required under the RRP rule, your business will still be liable if lead poisoning and or contamination results from the way work is performed. Shawn and contractor insurance expert Tom Messier of Mason and Mason Insurance both stress the importance of verifying proper and adequate insurance coverage to protect your business, available coverage options as well as related costs for coverage.


Video Seven: Business Considerations and Summary

Shawn Mccadden stresses that this new rule is a game changer. Shawn tells us businesses must take this new rule seriously and adjust their business practices accordingly to protect profits and control liabilities. Mark Paskell of the Contractor Coaching Partnership stresses that contractors should verify that the documentation forms they use will comply with the rule and also assist the business in managing and performing the work. Gerry McGonagle of Belfor Property Restoration offers his advice on qualifying the right employees to do the work. Shawn also discusses some of the new responsibilities the rule brings with it for employees in all positions within the business.

If you are looking for forms and signage to help you with comply with the EPA RRP rule, I recommend you check out what The Lead Paint Forms Store has to offer.

Topics: Videos, EPA RRP Lead Rules, Worker Training, Legal Considerations, Business Considerations, Insurance Considerations, Certified Renovator Training, Documentation Considerations, EPA RRP for Dummies, Work Practices, Work Practice Exclusions, Firm Certification, Enforcement and Inspections

RI RRP regulations differ from the EPA Rule in a few key ways

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Sep 28, 2010 @ 08:00 AM

Rhode Island RRP Rule

Rhode IslandRhode Island has been operating a Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovator Program since 2001 and has licensed over 1,500 Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovators. In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created its own Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovator Program, known as the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule. Rhode Island was the first New England state granted authority by EPA to continue its state Remodeler/Renovator program. 

The following information is from the RI Department of Health web site:

Regulated People and Activities

RI DOH LogoRhode Island's RRP Rule applies to contractors, landlords, property managers, homeowners, and anyone else who disturbs painted surfaces on pre-1978 homes or child care facilities. This includes general contractors as well as special trade contractors, such as painters, plumbers, carpenters, and electricians.

In general, the RI RRP Rule applies to any renovation, repair, or painting that disturbs six square feet or more of paint per room on the interior or 20 square feet or more of paint on the exterior of a pre-1978 house or child care facility. Examples of regulated activities include window replacement, remodeling, repair/maintenance, electrical work, plumbing, painting, carpentry, and any type of demolition.

Not all projects are regulated by the RRP Rule. The chart below details who can do what type of work:

Who can do the work chart 

Rhode Island's regulations differ from the federal RRP Rule in a few key ways
• Parents with children younger than six years of age must use a licensed Lead Hazard Control Firm.
• The Lead Hazard Control Firm must submit a Start Work Notification to the Department of Health at least three business days before beginning work.
• A licensed Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovator must be on site at all times.
• When the work is complete, a clearance inspection by a Rhode Island Certified Environmental Lead Inspector or Technician is required. The clearance inspection must include dust wipe samples analyzed by an approved laboratory. Once acceptable dust levels are achieved, the inspector or technician will issue a Certification of Acceptable Clearance Status.

• Housing built after 1978 and any housing declared lead-free by a Rhode Island Certified Environmental Lead Inspector is generally exempt from Rhode Island's RRP Rule.
• Other exemptions include housing for elderly or disabled persons, studio apartments, and dormitories. These buildings are regulated if a child younger than six years old resides there, or is expected to reside there, for more than two weeks per year.


• Contractors, painters, and other workers must complete an eight-hour Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovator training by a licensed training provider.

• Once training is complete, an individual can apply to be a licensed Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovator.
• All Rhode Island licensed Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovators must be affiliated with licensed Lead Hazard Control Firms.
• Individuals and firms must renew their licenses every five years after completing a four-hour refresher course. (Note: The fee for firms in RI is only $45.00!)


Start Work & Pre-Renovation Notification
• The firm must deliver a copy of the Rhode Island version of the Renovate Right pamphlet to property owners and tenants no more than 60 days and no less than seven days before work begins. 
• The firm must fill out the Pre-Renovation Education form at the back of the pamphlet, have it signed, and keep it for a minimum of three years.
• At least three business days before beginning a job, the firm must submit a Start Work Notification to the Department of Health. 

Lead-Safe Work Practices

While work is being performed, Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovators and their workers must:

• Contain the work area to prevent dust and debris from escaping.
• Refrain from using work methods that generate large amounts of lead-contaminated dust.
• Dry sweeping, using heat guns at temperatures above 1100°F, open flame burning, and using flammable or methylene chloride paint strippers are prohibited.

Dust clearance testWhen work is complete, Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovators and their workers must:

• Clean dust and debris using a HEPA vacuum and wet mops.
• Have a Certified Environmental Lead Inspector or Technician conduct a clearance inspection.
• Remove containment barriers upon notification that the dust wipes passed clearance.



Topics: RI Conciderations, Rhode Island RRP Rule, Notification Considerations, Info for Landlords, EPA RRP for Dummies, Work Practices, Work Practice Exclusions

Working on Buildings Where a Child Occupied Facility Exists

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 @ 08:00 AM

Chruch interior


Several renovators seeking clarification about the EPA RRP Rule have asked me about working on buildings where a child occupied facility occupies part of the building, but not the entire building.  The most common example they ask about is a church.  The following question and answer are from the FAQ page of the EPA Web site.  Although not mentioned in EPA's answer, I suggest that play areas outside of the building would also be considered common areas where the required containment procedures and work practices would be required.

Question Posted to EPA Web Site: If a building contains a child-occupied facility, must all renovations in the building follow the RRP Rule?

EPA Answer: Not necessarily.  "Child-occupied facility'' means a building, or portion of a building, constructed prior to 1978, visited regularly by the same child, under 6 years of age, on at least two different days within any week (Sunday through Saturday period), provided that each day's visit lasts at least 3 hours and the combined weekly visits last at least 6 hours, and the combined annual visits last at least 60 hours.  Child-occupied facilities may include, but are not limited to, day care centers, preschools and kindergarten classrooms.  Child-occupied facilities may be located in target housing or in public or commercial buildings.


With respect to common areas in public or commercial buildings that contain child-occupied facilities, the child-occupied facility encompasses only those common areas that are routinely used by children under age 6, such as restrooms and cafeterias.  Common areas that children under age 6 only pass through, such as hallways, stairways, and garages are not included.  In addition, with respect to exteriors of public or commercial buildings that contain child-occupied facilities, the child-occupied facility encompasses only the exterior sides of the building that are immediately adjacent to the child-occupied facility or the common areas routinely used by children under age 6.

Areas of a building that fall outside this definition are not "child-occupied facilities" for purposes of the RRP rule.  

Topics: RRP Questions, Work Practices, Work Practice Exclusions, Containment Considerations

EPA RRP Considerations for Demolition of All or Part of a Structure

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 @ 09:40 AM

House demolition


Question from RRPedia visitor Dan Tibma of Tibma Design/Build"Under the EPA RRP rule, if I demo an attached garage completely, except for the foundation, what site and debris containment measures do I need to take?"

Dan, thanks for visiting my web site and for your question.  I hope you are well.  I had already started a post about this topic, so you motivated me to finish it and get it posted.  Thanks!

I had asked the EPA a similar question in the list of questions presented to the EPA Region One Office on January 6th, 2010 on behalf of the Eastern MA NARI Chapter.  Eventually, on April 7, 2010, EPA answered the question in the FAQ section of their web site.

Here is the question I asked:

Does the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule apply to demolishing and disposing of:

  • An entire pre-1978 home or building?
  • An entire, non-attached free-standing structure on the same property such as a garage, shed, or gazebo?
  • An attached but segregated section of pre-1978 home or building such as a sunroom, addition, two-story porch, or garage attached by a breezeway?

Here is the EPA's response:

Garage demolition"The RRP Rule covers renovations, which are defined as modifications of existing structures or portions of structures. The rule does not apply to demolitions of an entire free-standing building or structure.

The RRP Rule does apply to renovation activities that modify portions of existing structures. Waste from these activities must be contained to prevent releases of dust and debris before the waste is removed from the work area for storage or disposal. If a chute is used to remove waste from the work area, it must be covered.

At the conclusion of each work day and at the conclusion of the renovation, waste that has been collected from renovation activities must be stored under containment, in an enclosure, or behind a barrier that prevents release of dust and debris out of the work are an d prevents access to dust and debris.

When the firm transports waste from renovation activities, the firm must contain the waste to prevent release of dust and debris."


Topics: RRP Questions, Production Considerations, Estimating Considerations, Work Practice Exclusions, Containment Considerations

Does the EPA RRP Rule apply in unpainted spaces?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sat, Apr 17, 2010 @ 04:47 PM

Questions (2):

(1) If a homeowner removes all the painted surfaces in a room and then hires a certified firm to remodel the room, does the renovator need to follow the RRP Rule?

(2) Does the RRP Rule apply where no paint at all is present, such as in a 100 year old unfinished basement?

According to the EPA web site:

"No.  The EPA RRP Rule applies to activities that result in the disturbance of painted surfaces.  Where there is no paint to disturb, the RRP Rule does not apply."

effects of lead poisoningNote: If the home owner has removed all painted surfaces and or has already done all required demo, renovators should still be cautious.  Just because all of the painted surfaces have been removed does not ensure that there is no lead dust still present in a work area.  If the renovator spreads that dust while working, he or she could still be held liable for doing so.  If demolition has been done by others prior to the start of work, it might be wise to have the area tested before you begin your work.

NOTE: According to the EPA RRP rule, you cannot offer, sell or do work on pre-78 target housing for compensation unless you or your business is a certified firm.  Although the work practices may not be required at a property if you are not disturbing any paint, the firm doing the work must be an EPA Certified Firm.

Topics: RRP Questions, EPA RRP Lead Rules, Work Practices, Work Practice Exclusions

Do the EPA RRP work practices apply in an emergency situation?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 @ 10:01 PM


What with all this water damage this week, it occurs to me to wonder about the intersection between flood damage restoration (with insurance coverage) and the EPA's lead rule set to take effect in a couple three weeks.

FloodInsurance companies use detailed estimating programs to set the rates they will reimburse for repairs. When we go trying to fix up people's soggy basements and flooded first stories after this big wet one, can we assume that we are disturbing lead? And if so, are they going to want us to put up plastic and stuff amid all that soggy mess? And if so (which I doubt), are the insurance companies ready to pay the added cost of this?

I leave aside the absurdity of supposedly vacuuming for paint in a basement full of raw sewage. For now.

But seriously -- has anyone thought about how this EPA BS fits into the insurance industry's rate paradigm? Have you?



This came up for me in two places.  First with one of my clients who is a water remediation contractor.  Second, at a full day RRP Class for business owners that I presented.  I have no idea what the insurance industry has or will do regarding unit costs for EPA RRP related work.   There is an exclusion in the EPA RRP rule for emergency work.  


Basically, you can deal with the emergency up until the point it is no longer an emergency.  I suggest that would include removing damaged components so as to prevent and or limit additional damages (including mold) and health risks.  Clean up and cleaning verification is not excluded.  Also, you must switch over to the work practice requirements once you reach the point of interim control.  I hope this helps.  I am not an EPA lawyer, nor have I qualified this with the EPA. I am answering based on my understanding of the EPA RRP rule.

Topics: RRP Questions, EPA RRP Lead Rules, Work Practices, Work Practice Exclusions