This is a legacy version of the WELL Building Standard. Please check the latest version here.

Fundamental material safety

Fundamental material safety


To reduce or eliminate occupant exposure to lead, asbestos, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from building materials.


Some hazardous materials, such as asbestos, a known human carcinogen, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a probable human carcinogen, are currently restricted or banned in many countries, but are often encountered in older buildings. Others, including lead, remain in limited use. Exposure to asbestos fibers through inhalation can occur when building materials degrade over time or are disturbed during renovation or demolition, and is associated with lung cancer and mesothelioma. Exposure to lead can have neurotoxic effects, even at low levels, and in early development is associated with negative effects on memory, IQ, learning and behavior.

Part 1
Asbestos and Lead Restriction

All newly-installed building materials meet the following materials composition requirements:
No asbestos.
Not more than a weighted average of 0.25% lead in wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures, and 0.20% for solder or flux used in plumbing for water intended for human consumption.
Not more than 100 ppm (by weight) added lead in all other building materials. For door hardware, project teams must document attempt to meet the requirement and demonstrate a petition or a formal request has been filed with manufacturers who were unable to meet their needs.

Part 2
Lead Abatement

For repair, renovation, demolition, or painting of projects constructed prior to any applicable laws banning or restricting lead paint, lead evaluation and abatement is conducted in accordance with the below guidelines, and a policy is put in place for future work:
An on-site investigation of the space conducted by a certified risk assessor or inspector technician to determine the presence of any lead-based hazards in paint, dust and soil using the definitions in U.S. EPA 40 CFR Part 745.65 for residential dwellings or child-occupied facilities.
All commercial and institutional spaces found to have lead-based hazards must adhere to work practice standards for conducting lead-based paint activities, as outlined in U.S. 40 CFR Part 745.227 for multi-family dwellings and in U.S. CFR Part 1926.62 for general construction work. An occupant protection plan must be implemented during the work activities.
Adherence to final rules, as they are proposed by the U.S. EPA, regarding the lead renovation, repair and painting program for public and commercial buildings (RIN: 2070-AJ56) supersedes adherence to definitions and protocols outlined in U.S. EPA 40 CFR Part 745 for residential dwellings or child-occupied facilities.

Part 3
Asbestos Abatement

To reduce hazards in projects constructed prior to any applicable laws banning or restricting asbestos, the following testing, evaluation and abatement protocols (as applicable) are conducted prior and during repair, renovation, demolition, or painting:
Inspection is conducted every three years through an accredited professional per Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA)’s Asbestos Model Accreditation Plan (MAP), National Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) or accredited asbestos consultant (state or local equivalent).
In accordance with the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), development, maintenance and update of asbestos management plans, including all necessary actions to minimize asbestos hazards: repair, encapsulation, enclosure, maintenance and removal, follow protocol detailed in the Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools Rule (40 CFR part 763).
Projects conduct post-abatement clearance in accordance with Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) Asbestos-Containing Materials in Schools (40 CFR part 763).

Part 4
Polychlorinated Biphenyl Abatement

For any projects undergoing current renovation or demolition that were constructed or renovated between 1950 and the institution of any applicable laws banning or restricting PCBs, the below guidelines are applied:
Conduct evaluation and abatement of materials in accordance with the U.S. EPA Steps to Safe PCB Abatement Activities.
Conduct removal and safe disposal of PCB-containing fluorescent light ballasts in accordance with the U.S. EPA guidelines.

Part 5
Mercury Limitation

Mercury-containing equipment and devices are restricted in accordance with the below guidelines:
Project does not specify or install new mercury containing thermometers, switches and electrical relays.
Project does not install any lamps not compliant with the low-mercury limits specified in Appendix C, Table A5. Project develops a plan to upgrade any existing non-compliant lamps to low-mercury or mercury-free lamps.
Illuminated exit signs only use Light-Emitting Diode (LED) or Light-Emitting Capacitor (LEC) lamps.
No mercury vapor or probe-start metal halide high intensity discharge lamps are in use.

Part 6
Playground Equipment Safety

The following requirements are met:
Lead paint on playground equipment is assessed and remediated in accordance with the Consumer Product Safety Commission Staff Recommendations for Identifying and Controlling Lead Paint on Public Playground Equipment.
Playground equipment composed of pressure treated wood is remediated in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency’s Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA): Consumer Advice Related to CCA-Treated Wood, or replaced using oil-based, semi-transparent stains.
Sample, evaluate and apply protective actions to mitigate risks associated with lead contaminated artificial turf per guidelines outlined in Evaluating and Regulating Lead in Synthetic Turf.