Health & Safety

 Background Information:

The Department of Physical Plant Services maintains an inventory of lead-based paint application at UWM. Please remember that not all materials have been tested or labeled. If in doubt as to whether a material is lead-based paint make sure to have it analyzed before disturbing it. Questions regarding this inventory should be directed to Robert Grieshaber, Industrial Hygiene Specialist, at x-4576 or (414)229-4576.

Lead paint results are reported in either mass loading (milligrams lead per square centimeter), or mass concentration (parts per million, parts per billion, or percent by weight). There is no conversion relationship between the two unit reporting types. Field portable non-destructive x-ray fluorescence (XRF) instruments report the concentration of lead in paint as mass loading (milligrams lead per square centimeter). Destructive sampling methods utilizing laboratory analysis are reported as mass concentration (ppm, ppb, or % by weight).

Inexpensive qualitative field test kits are now commercially available for the detection of lead-based paint. These devices simply give a positive or negative result (i.e., not quantitative). These kits are useful survey tools, but they may give false negatives and the results are subject to tester interpretation. For additional information on home test kits, please see: U.S. EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics Interpretive Guidance For The Federal Program TSCA Sections 402/403 (12/15/1999).

Lead-Based Paint Disclosure for UWM Student Housing:

The EPA/HUD Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Rule (Section 1018, March 6, 1996) of TSCA's Title IV is intended to ensure family health. It requires the disclosure of known information on lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards before the sale or lease of housing built before 1978. Section 1018(a)(1)(B) requires that ''before the purchaser or lessee is obligated under any contract to purchase or lease the housing, . . .the seller or lessor shall. . .disclose to the purchaser or lessee the presence of any known lead-based paint or any lead-based paint hazards, in such housing, and provide any lead hazard evaluation report available to the seller or lessor.''

The disclosure rule exempts university dormitory housing and other 'zero bedroom' dwellings. Please contact Physical Plant Services for environmental survey information of Sandburg and Purin Halls.



There is no universal definition of lead-based paint. Since 1977, The Consumer Product Safety Commission has limited the lead in most paints to 0.06% (600 ppm by dry weight). Paint for bridges and marine use may contain greater amounts of lead (ATSDR, 2000).

Lead-based Paint Definition:
(The Lead Exposure Reduction Act, Section 401, Title IV, TSCA amendment, Public Law 102-550, 1992; Title X of the1992 Housing and Community Development Act)

>0.5% (5,000 ppm)

or >1.0 mg/cm2

Lead-free Paint Definition:
(Consumer Product Safety Act, CPSA 15 USC 2057-8, 1978)

<0.06% (600 ppm)

Lead-based Paint Definition:
(State of Wisconsin)

>0.06% (600 ppm)


Please Note: Regardless of which definition is used, exposure to airborne lead or lead dust contamination may still occur as a result of removing paint or other surface coatings that contain even small amounts of lead.

U.S. EPA and U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Lead Paint Abatement Clearance Level Requirements:


<50 ug lead/square foot

Window Sills:

<250 ug lead/square foot

Window Wells (Exterior Sills):

<800 ug lead/square foot
(400 ug lead/square foot proposed rule)

All other surfaces:

<100 ug lead/square foot


These levels have been established as achievable through lead abatement and interim control activities. They are not based on projected health effects associated with specific surface dust levels. There is currently no OSHA standard which provides a permissible limit for lead contamination of surfaces in occupational settings.

Sources and Regulations Regarding Lead-Based Paint, Abatement, and Worker Protection:

Questions regarding lead paint application other than at UWM should be directed to your local health department. Many private laboratories and firms in the Milwaukee area also provide lead testing and consultation services.