Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Lead-Safe Wisconsin: Revisions to Wisconsin’s Lead-Safe Renovation Rule

In July 2021, updates to Wisconsin’s Lead-Safe Renovation Rule (Wis. Admin. Code ch. DHS 163) took effect. The rule regulates renovation, repair, and paint work performed on homes and child care centers built before 1978. Read answers to FAQs (frequently asked questions) about the rule.

Below is an overview of significant changes to the rule. For a complete list of changes, view the Wisconsin Legislature’s Administrative Rules Clearinghouse, specifically CR 19-110 Rule Text.

Key changes

Wisconsin’s definition of lead-based paint was revised to align with Wis. Stat. ch. 254.11(8), which was changed in 2015.

Now, lead-based paint is considered “paint or any other surface-coating material containing more than 0.06% lead by weight, calculated as lead metal, in the total nonvolatile content of liquid paint, more than 0.5% lead by weight in the dried film of applied paint, or more than 1 milligram of lead per square centimeter in the dried film of applied paint.”

Note: Wisconsin’s definition of lead-based paint is less restrictive than the federal definition, which says, “Lead-based paint means paint or other surface coatings that contain lead equal to or in excess of 1.0 milligrams per square centimeter or more than 0.5 percent by weight.”

Lead investigation professionals should follow the most restrictive definition to make sure they’re complying with state and federal law.

The definition of a child-occupied facility now includes “a structure that is being converted” to a child-occupied facility. This means that a renovation in a building that is going to be used as a child-occupied facility, such as a daycare, is regulated.

Trained individuals don’t have to wait for a blue certification card from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to start taking on regulated work. Individual applicants can work under provisional certification if they’ve both:

  • Completed the required training course.
  • Submitted a complete application for certification to DHS.

Those working under provisional certification must keep a copy of their training diploma (marked “copy”) with them while performing regulated work.

Note: Those who successfully complete an accredited lead training course now receive a training diploma (instead of a training certificate). This helps distinguish the document from a certification card or company certificate from DHS.

We discontinued one-year certifications to keep refresher training and certification expiration dates on the same schedule. All certifications are now issued for a maximum of two years, with the exception that lead-safe renovators can certify for up to four years to line up with their refresher training cycle. Those who don’t currently expire on their refresher training due date can renew through the end of their current training period at a prorated certification fee.

We increased fees for lead company certification by $25 per year and individual certification by $25 per year for all disciplines except:

  • Abatement worker
  • Lead-safe renovator
  • Sampling technician

The fees for these disciplines increased by $12.50 per year.

Lead certification fees

Abatement supervisor

Abatement worker

Hazard investigator


Project designer

Risk assessor

Lead-safe renovator

Sampling technician

Lead company

The fee to register for the state lead exam has also increased from $50 to $75 for these disciplines:

  • Hazard investigator
  • Inspector
  • Lead abatement supervisor
  • Risk assessor

We discontinued the lead-safe company certificate option, so you don’t have to choose between certifying as a lead-safe company or a lead company. All companies now receive the same lead company certificate. You do have to make sure you have appropriately trained staff for the type of regulated lead work your company performs.

Applicants for initial certification for certain disciplines will now have up to six months and three tries to pass the state certification exam after completing training. They’ll receive interim certification to perform regulated work during that time.

These disciplines include:

  • Hazard investigator
  • Inspector
  • Lead abatement supervisor
  • Risk assessor

Applicants who don’t pass the state certification exam—either by not passing it within six months or failing three attempts—may have their interim certification revoked and their initial certification application denied. If an applicant is denied lead abatement supervisor certification, they’ll be issued certification as a lead abatement worker. If an applicant is denied hazard investigator, inspector, or risk assessor certification, they’ll be issued certification as a lead sampling technician.

One year after a lead abatement supervisor applicant is denied, they can reapply for certification after retaking the initial training. The same is true of hazard investigator and inspector applicants. Risk assessor applicants can reapply one year later after retaking both the initial hazard investigator and inspector training.

To align with Wis. Stat. § 254.18(2)(b), we added a very limited regulation exemption to the rule for certain partial lead inspections. To incorporate the exemption, partial lead inspections are now defined as “an on-site sampling or testing of one or more, but not all, testing combinations in any target housing or child-occupied facility to determine the presence of lead-based paint.”

Most partial lead inspections are still regulated, with certification requirements and work practice standards applied. However, partial lead inspections are exempt from regulation under Wis. Admin. Code ch. DHS 163 if both these conditions apply:

  • The presence of lead-based paint or a lead hazard is assumed (meaning testing for the purpose of identifying lead paint is not performed).
  • A renovation is performed in a lead-safe manner (meaning testing is not performed to determine whether lead-safe certification and work practices are required for the project).

If a partial lead inspection is exempt, the person performing the inspection doesn’t have to be certified or follow other provisions from Wisconsin’s Lead-Safe Renovation Rule. Before they perform the inspection, however, they must disclose, in writing, to the owner or lessor that the work is not a regulated activity and may not be used to declare the structure free of lead-based paint.

If you have one of the following questions or concerns, call us at 608-261-6876 or email us at

  • You’re planning a renovation and aren’t sure whether the lead inspection report you’ve received means you don’t need to have lead-safe certification or use lead-safe work practices.
  • You don’t know whether the partial lead inspection you’re planning is regulated.
  • You’re a property owner and want to make sure you ask for the type of lead inspection that meets your needs.

The maximum daily civil forfeiture for each violation of Wis. Admin. Code ch. DHS 163 increased from $1,000 to $5,000. This incorporates the revisions made to Wis. Stat. ch. 254 by the 2016-2017 Wisconsin budget bill to bring Wisconsin’s lead program into compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 163.14(1) addresses work practice standards for lead abatement activities. We significantly revised them to better align with the detailed standards already written into the rule about lead-safe renovation.

The revised work standards are more specific. Now that they’ve taken effect, the lead-safe practices for both types of work look mostly the same. For example, pre-cleaning is now required before setting up containment for both lead-safe renovation and lead abatement projects. This prevents people from walking on paint chips and grinding them into a fine powder that is harder to clean up at the end of the day.

There are still a few important differences between work standards for lead-safe renovation and lead abatement projects, however, including:

  • Post-activity reporting.
  • Requirements for notifying DHS.
  • The information that must be provided to occupants and property owners.
  • The types of certifications crew members need.

We made the requirements for abatement notices more specific:

  • You must begin a project on the start date you provided in the notice, and it can’t last more than 14 days.
  • If a project is delayed and won’t start on time, you must send a revised notice to DHS as soon as you know the new start date, and you must revise the notice no later than the start date on the original notice.
  • If a project will take longer than you thought it would, you must revise the notice to change the end date to be no later than the original (or most recent revised, if applicable) notice to DHS. If you don’t revise it by then, you must submit a new notice and wait at least two business days before conducting additional activities.
  • Before the project starts, you must post the written occupant protection plan in plain view outside the work area, and not just make it available onsite.

We revised the rule to better align with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Housing—in particular, with chapter 7 on lead-based paint inspection.

Instead of relying on visual appearance, testing combinations are now used to determine which surfaces have a distinct paint history and must be tested separately for lead-based paint during an inspection or risk assessment (when lead-based paint is not assumed).

“Testing combination” means a unique combination of:

  • Room equivalent (e.g., bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, utility/laundry room, exterior)
  • Building component type (e.g., windowsill, door, door trim, floor, gutter)
  • Substrate (e.g., wood, metal, plaster, drywall, concrete, brick)

Testing combination examples include:

  • Bedroom, windowsill, wood
  • Bathroom, baseboard, wood
  • Utility/laundry room, floor, concrete
  • Exterior, gutter, metal

The “testing combination” concept means that you are required to test, for example, just one wood windowsill in a bedroom, even if there are several other wood windowsills in the bedroom. However, if there is also a metal windowsill in the bedroom, it requires its own test because it’s a different testing combination. Similarly, if a second bedroom has a wood windowsill, you can’t group it with the window you tested in the first bedroom; it’s also a different testing combination.

Note: When using an X-ray fluorescence device, you must test each interior and exterior wall separately. You also must take at least four readings in each room (or equivalent of a room), one on each wall.

Wisconsin’s hazard standards and clearance levels are now as protective as federal standards, so there’s no need to reference different sets of standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Read more about the new values.

Last revised December 27, 2022