Lead Safe Renovation is EASY!

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Why is Lead Safe Renovation Important?

Homes built before 1990 may have lead in paint. Lead in paint is a hazard when it’s chipping, peeling or disturbed during renovations. Renovations stir up dust, and in homes built before 1990, can expose people to lead.

Keeping dust down in the home and yard reduces the chances of children accidentally ingesting lead. Children and pregnant women are more at risk from lead exposure, and it’s important to keep them clear of renovation dust. Scroll down the page to view free supports for all types of renovators working on homes built before 1990 anywhere in Greater Trail.

Renovating Quick Tips

Why is THEP reporting on ‘lead in paint’ rather than ‘lead-based paint’? 

THEP uses the term ‘lead in paint’ when any level of lead is detected in paint.  This is because paint with lower lead levels than ‘lead-based paint’ can still be a risk to children when in poor condition such as peeling, flaking or chipping.   

THEP’s intent is to use the most stringent regulations available.  There is currently no known safe level of lead exposure.

The term ‘lead-based paint’ generally refers to paint produced before 1960 that contained higher levels of lead than newer paint.   Lead-based paint is defined in the US as paint containing more than 5000 parts per million (ppm) or 1 mg/cm2 of lead.      

In June 2024, THEP shifted its paint reporting reference point from the US Environmental Protection Agency lead-based paint standard to Canada’s Surface Coating Materials regulation[1] for lead in paint. 

[1] Surface Coating Materials Regulation, SOR/2016-193, Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. 2022-12-19.

What are the current standards for identifying lead in paint? 

Since 2010, paint sold in Canada containing more than 0.009% (90 ppm) lead must be labeled to indicate that it is not safe to use in areas accessible to children or pregnant women. When painting your home, make sure that the paint you use is lead-free.

THEP uses the term ‘lead in paint’ when any level of lead is detected in paint.  This is because paint with lower lead levels than ‘lead-based paint’ can still be a risk to children or pregnant women when in poor condition such as peeling, flaking or chipping.   

What support can I receive as a senior that may have lead in paint in my home?

Lead in paint is in many pre-1990 homes in many communities. Lead in paint is only a risk when the paint is chipping, flaking, crushed or sanded into dust.

THEP provides information and education to property owners and families about lead in paint, in and around the home environment, with the goal to reduce children’s potential exposure.

Homeowners are responsible for managing identified sources of lead in paint if they choose to.

THEP support is via education (Visit thep.ca to view ‘how-to’ videos on removing exterior paint and keeping dust down while renovating). THEP also can provide lead-safe renovation supplies to keep the dust down while renovating.

If you are concerned that you or someone else in your home has been exposed to lead dust from renovations, talk to your family doctor for advice about potential exposure concerns.   HealthLink BC has information on lead based paint that we can email (or print and mail) to you if that is helpful.   For support in dispute resolution with your landlord, please contact the Residential Tenancy Board at: Residential Tenancies – Province of British Columbia  or toll free: 1-800-665-8779.  

Does THEP carry out lead abatement services?

THEP works with the community to provide information and education about lead in paint to reduce children’s potential exposure to lead. The program does not include removing lead in paint from homes.   The program does provide lead-safe renovation supplies for DIY renovations in the Trail area. We’ve put together videos you can use to learn more about safely removing paint containing lead from your home. Visit thep.ca for videos.

I’ve had my soil tested/replaced. Can I still have my paint tested for lead?

THEP is conducting paint testing on all properties identified for soil management in priority order. Properties that have received soil management in previous years should contact the community program office to be added to the list of properties to be tested.

What about paint on the exterior of my home?

Exterior paint on homes older than 1990 may contain lead. Sometimes leaving lead in paint alone is safer than removing it, as long as it is not chipping or within the reach of children. THEP’s soil assessment includes exterior paint testing for lead as of May 2023. Due to the high volume of requests, properties will be addressed in priority order.   If the paint is chipping or peeling, visit the Government of Canada’s home safety page for more resources.

How do I dispose of products or building materials containing lead in paint?

Please contact the McKelvey Creek Landfill (250) 364-9834 to inquire about disposing of paint containing lead.

I have lead in paint in my home and I’m starting a renovation. What should I do?

If you must remove paint containing lead from your walls, this Government of Canada resource provides suggestions to be lead-safe. THEP also has DIY videos to reduce dust during renovations and they are accessed at thep.ca > Resources > Videos.

What should I do if lead is detected in paint in my home?

Sometimes it’s safest to leave paint undisturbed as long as it’s in good condition.

Paint that is peeling, flaking, chipping or regularly disturbed through normal wear-and-tear, such as paint on doors, windows, stairs, and railings, can expose you and your children to lead.

Whenever you disturb surfaces with lead in paint, you risk creating hazardous lead dust even if the old paint is covered with new paint. To reduce the chance of exposure to lead in paint, surfaces can be covered with new paint, vinyl wallpaper, wallboard, or paneling.

If you decide to remove paint you should follow lead-safe guidelines or hire an expert to do the job. To learn about lead-safe practices, view the how-to’ videos in the resource section at thep.ca.

Am I required to disclose the results if paint at my home is found to contain lead?

To the best of our knowledge, there is currently no requirement in B.C. or Canada to disclose paint testing results. However, situations where you may want to disclose paint testing results include:

  • to tenants if the home is rented
  • to buyers if the home is sold
  • when disposing of materials containing lead-based paint

Why do I need my paint tested?

Families and caregivers of young children in pre-1990 homes should have paint tested to find out if there is a risk of lead exposure from paint in their home. There is currently no known safe level of lead exposure.

  • Lead in paint can be a serious health hazard when it’s peeling, flaking, chipping, or within reach of children who may chew on it.
  • Infants, children and pregnant women are at higher risk. Toddlers and children can ingest lead because of their frequent hand-to-mouth activity and tendency to mouth or chew objects. Children absorb and retain more lead into their bodies compared to adults. For pregnant women, even low levels of lead can affect the growth of the developing baby.

Why has THEP starting testing paint?

Home built before 1990 may have lead in paint. Paint that is peeling, flaking, chipping or painted surfaces disturbed through normal wear-and-tear such as doors, windows, stairs and railings, can expose you and your children to lead.

To reduce the risk of lead exposure for young children, THEP has added paint testing to existing services such as soil assessments and in-home visits for expectant families and families with children under three.

What should I know about lead if I am expecting?

  • Generally pregnant women and newborns are at low risk of adverse health effects from lead (Pb) exposure in typical every-day community situations. We strongly advise pregnant women and children avoid being exposed to dust from home renovation as this could result in higher than typical lead (Pb) exposure. This includes exposure to fine particles of lead paint in homes (this applies to any community). Please see our Lead-safe Renovation rack card for details.
  • A mother’s blood lead level affects the blood lead level of the fetus during pregnancy and is only a concern in situations where the mother has experienced higher than usual exposure, such as work exposure, home renovations, or living in parts of the world where lead exposure may be high. If a woman is pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, in a higher exposure risk situation, she should be tested by her physician or, if the timing is convenient, at one of THEP’s blood lead testing clinics. Please contact THEP’s Public Health Nurse at 250-364-6223.
  • If you work in an industry that has potential lead exposure, talk to your employer about blood lead monitoring and the potential for alternative work.
  • A pregnant woman who is exposed to lead can pass it to her baby. Lead can also be passed to a baby through the mother’s breast milk.

How can I contain dust when removing roofing materials?

A roofing contractor showed us how he leans plywood against the side of a house or fence with a tarp underneath on the ground. This acts as sheeting when the old shingles are pulled off and it protects the house, keeps the dust contained, and can be easily vacuumed or hosed off at the end of the project and re-used.

How can I be lead safe when cleaning the gutters?

A suggestion from a Trail Area Lead Safe Contractor is to use a shop vac with a long hose to get all the dust and debris out of the gutters, preventing clogged downspouts and keeping dust down.

How do I know if the paint in my home contains lead?

Homes older than 1990 may contain lead in paint, and homes older than 1960 are likely to contain lead in paint.

If you want to test your paint, there are simple test kits that can be purchased at your local hardware store, or you can send a paint chip to a certified lab for analysis.

To reduce the risk of lead exposure for young children, THEP has added paint testing to existing services such as soil testing and in-home visits for expectant families and families with children under three.

What should I do if I am a building contractor or professional home renovator?

Check out the Contractor section on this website. For more information, or to become a Trail Area Lead Safe Contractor, please contact the Community Program Office at 1319 Bay Avenue or 250.368.3256.

What should I do if I want to renovate my home?

Please contact the Community Program Office at 1319 Bay Avenue or 250.368.3256 for information on the Lead Safe Renovation Program supports and information available to you.  

The Lead Safe Renovation Program applies to all pre-1990 homes anywhere in the Lower Columbia.

Resources are also available online.

What actions can I take to reduce my family’s exposure to lead in dust?

Primary prevention is the most effective way to prevent lead exposure. Actions you can take to reduce the risk of lead exposure include:

  • Wash your hands and your children’s hands especially before eating and after playing outdoors.
  • Eat foods that have enough iron and other vitamins and minerals. A person who eats a balanced, nutritious diet may absorb less lead. Eat at the table.
  • Keep your floors dust-free by vacuuming and damp-mopping often. Leave outside shoes at the door. Damp dust frequently, especially window ledges and countertops.
  • Keep outdoor play areas clean. Cover the sandbox when you are finished playing. Hose off patios, play equipment, and driveways often. Play on the grass and cover bare soil areas.
  • Renovate safely. Seal off the area of work, and clean well when complete. Keep children and pregnant women away if possible.

Secondary prevention including blood lead testing and follow-up minimizes further exposure. Trail offers an annual voluntary blood lead testing clinic for children under five years old.

Why is the dust in and around homes a concern in the Trail region?

Dust that settles in and around homes in the Trail area may contain lead as a result of air emissions (mainly historical) from the smelter. Lead dust may also come from older, chipping indoor and outdoor paint. If a young child puts their hands in their mouth, they may unintentionally ingest lead from dust on their hands. Keeping dust down inside and outside the home, especially in drier months, is one way to reduce potential ingestion by children.

How can I tell if my shop vac is leaking?

One trick we’ve learned is to rub dish soap around the seal and turn on the vacuum. If you see bubbles, there’s a leak. Consider fixing the seal with Vaseline or something similar. If that doesn’t work, you may need a new part, a new vacuum, or maybe you’ll find a new fix and have a new tip for us. If you are buying a new vacuum, buy a HEPA shop vac to really keep dust down!


Do it Yourself Icon

All homeowners can access tips on how to limit your exposure to lead in paint and renovation dust. In the Program area, if your home was built before 1990, THEP offers advice and support to residents carrying out renovations. THEP provides safety supplies and equipment for free.

Personal Protective Gear

  • Half-face respirators
  • P100 filters
  • Disposable coveralls
  • Leather work gloves

Containment Supplies​

  • Tarps
  • Tape
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Safety fencing
  • HEPA filter and shop vac bags


  • Tarps
  • Garbage bags

Watch as Trail renovators demonstrate lead safe practices.

Tips for Lead Safe Renovating

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Remove/cover items in the work area and seal it off.

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HEPA vacuum before you start and keep dust down as you go.


Keep pets and family out of the work area.

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Wear personal protective gear.

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Wash hands and face before breaks.

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Wash work clothes separately from other laundry.

Hire a Contractor

If you are hiring a contractor, you want the job done right, here are some tools that may help:


What to Expect from your Contractor

Understand what a Lead Safe Contractor will do for you by using our checklist as a guide.

Watch how Lead Safe is done

“Made in Trail” Video Series

We strongly encourage you to watch Getting Started on a Lead Safe Renovation first before checking out the different projects. It will give you key information to become your own lead safety expert, able to problem-solve your specific renovation challenges.

Getting Started on a Lead Safe Renovation

Mike, Lisa, Stella and Frankie know they need to be lead safe when renovating their home to protect their family from lead dust. This video points out the risks from lead during renovations and introduces the keys to a lead safe renovation.

Getting Started on a Lead Safe Renovation

Liz and Eric demonstrate how to set up a work area to keep dust out of the rest of the house. Keeping dust out of non-project areas protects people from exposure to lead and helps make clean-up much easier. Liz and Eric will make a flapped entry door and also show how to seal off part of a room with plastic sheeting. If you are a Do-it-Yourselfer, you can get most of the containment supplies from us free of charge.

Indoor Projects​

Jaylene and Richard show the best ways to safely complete an interior renovation and demolition project. The first step: Keep the kids out of the project area! Demolition is a key time to keep dust down. This video shows you how to set up the space, stay safe around lead in paint, store debris and clean up thoroughly.

Flooring Removal

Vanessa has a plan to remove the old carpets in her apartment…and she knows how to do it safely. Using a spray bottle and HEPA filtered shop vacuum, Vanessa shows how to keep dust down while removing flooring and cleaning up after! She outlines two ways to remove dusty old carpets to a secure outdoor storage area. Do-It-Yourselfers , contact us for a free loan of a HEPA shop vacuum.

Outdoor Projects

Keeping dust down on outdoor jobs requires a bit of creativity but isn’t hard to do. Watch Peggy and Mitch set up an outdoor project area and work safely to remove some old, chipping lead-based paint.

Soil Excavation

Shelley-Anne and Kyle need to landscape their yard: their dog is digging up the lawn and they want a play space for their son, Miller. In this video, they show the best practices to keep dust down when excavating soil. The bottom line: watch the video and contact our office at 250 368-3256 or programs@thep.ca if you’re planning to excavate soil in Trail or Rivervale.


Mike, Lisa, Stella and Frankie know they need to be lead safe when renovating their home to protect their family from lead dust. This video points out the risks from lead during renovations and introduces the keys to a lead safe renovation.

Tips for Contractors

Lance is a Trail Area Lead Safe Contractor (hyperlink to list of TALSCs) who demonstrates some tips for professionals in this video. This includes using HEPA tools and equipment and making sure workers stay safe on the job and go home healthy at the end of the day. This video will be relevant for contractors and people hiring contractors. Join our Lead Safe Contractor Program and we’ll promote your business to People Hiring Contractors.

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