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Office of Sustainability and the Environment
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Permits & Lead Testing Guidelines


The following instructions were developed by the Office of Sustainability and the Environment to ensure that sand-blasting permits are restricted to projects for which it has been demonstrated that lead levels are below appropriate thresholds. These guidelines should be reviewed before issuing a sand-blasting permit to the public.

Where Do I Get a Sandblasting Permit?

Applications for sand-blasting permits are issued by the Building and Safety Division located in City Hall. For more information please call (310) 458-8355.

How Many Samples are Required?

The intent of sampling is to develop a representative picture of the lead content of all surfaces to be sandblasted. A ‘surface’ is defined as The number of samples that is deemed representative can change from site to site, for example, multiple structures with larger surfaces will require more samples. If you are uncertain, please contact Environmental Programs Division staff for assistance.

MULTIPLE SURFACES (Each Stand-Alone Structure with Multiple Surfaces)
RULE -- One (1) Sample From EACH Surface

For each building structure, at least one sample is required from EACH surface to be sandblasted. Each wall of a single-story structure is a separate surface and requires a separate sample. Each wall of each additional story constitutes an additional surface. For an average one-story single-family home with four exterior walls, a minimum of 4 samples is required. Each sample should be taken from a different wall on the building. A detached garage constitutes a separate structure.

SINGLE SURFACE (Detached or Attached)
RULE -- Two (2) Samples From The Surface

If a permit application includes a single surface such as one wall of a building or a stand-alone wall, or other materials such as hand railing, then two samples are required for that surface.

Surfaces to be Sandblasted
Number of Samples
1 Four (4) sides from a single-story house FOUR (4) samples, one from each wall
2 Four (4) sides from a single-story house with detached stucco wall SIX (6) samples, one from each wall of house and two from the detached wall.
3 Four (4) sides from a single-story house [first structure] with three (3) walls from a detached garage [second structure]. SEVEN (7) samples, one from each wall of the house and one from each wall of the garage.
4 One stucco wall TWO (2) samples from the detached wall.
5 Four (4) sides from a two (2) story apartment building. EIGHT (8) samples, one from each wall of each story.
6 Four (4) sides from a large two (2) story commercial / industrial building. SIXTEEN (16) samples, Two from each wall of each story.

Test Methods

There are two tests that can be used to test for lead. Basic descriptions are provided below including the unit of analysis and the threshold for each method. If one or more samples exceeds the given threshold, then the sandblasting permit shall be denied.

        1. Paint-Chip Analysis

Unit of Analysis:     parts per million (ppm) = milligrams/kilogram (mg/kg)
Threshold:             600 (ppm) or 600 (mg/kg)

If one or more samples exceeds 600 parts per million (ppm) or 600 (mg/kg), then the sandblasting permit shall be denied. Test results shall be expressed as the actual concentration of lead detected by the analysis and not as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’; please refer such cases to the Environmental Programs Division.

Sampling Methods for Paint-Chip Analysis
The paint-chip sample should be representative of the surface. Federal HUD Guidelines recommend collection of at least a 4-square-inch area to be placed in a sealable rigid container. Plastic tubes or jars with a screw top are better than plastic bags. Paint-chip collection should include, as a priority, collection of all the paint layers from the substrate, while minimizing any collection of actual substrate. (For further details, refer to ASTM ES 28-94.)

Analysis for Paint-Chips
The analysis must be performed by a laboratory that is certified in the state of California to perform lead tests. A list of some laboratories is provided.

2. X-Ray Flouresence (XRF)

Unit of Analysis:     milligrams per square centimeter (mg/cm2)
Threshold:             0.7 (mg/cm2)

If one or more samples exceeds 0.7 (mg/cm2), then the sandblasting permit shall be denied.

Sampling Methods for XRF
The XRF method requires special equipment and training and is typically used only by environmental consultants who are hired to conduct the sampling. A list of some consultants is provided.
Results at or above the thresholds require a state certified lead abatement contractor to do any work that will disturb the lead contaminated materials including the proper management of the waste. Lists of laboratories, lead consultants, and lead abatement contractors are provided. Please note, these are not to be construed as endorsements by the City Of Santa Monica. If you have any questions, please contact EPD.

Reporting Illegal Sandblasting:

If you suspect that someone is operating without a valid sand-blasting permit please call the:
City of Santa Monica Code Compliance Office
(310) 4580-4984,
or Building and Safety (310) 458-8355
If you suspect a public health risk but no sandblasting is evident please call:
County of Los Angeles Health Department
(323) 869-7066
, or:

Last updated: Tuesday, 12/08/2015

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Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626