Testing Continues on Lead-Safe Work Practices
With roughly only six weeks remaining until the Environmental Protection Agency's deadline for comments on its proposed lead-based paint rulemaking, NAHB volunteers continue to test lead-safe work practices and gather information to prepare a detailed response.
The bottom line is that the rules do not effectively prevent lead poisoning in children, said NAHB leaders. The rules apply only to remodelers or other professionals who are making renovations for compensation and not to home owners, who do the work themselves more than half the time.
A concern for the remodeling industry is that the cost of training, materials and other expenses associated with complying with the proposed rule will lead to higher remodeling costs, and then fewer home owners will be able to afford to use a qualified remodeler, said Vince Butler, CGR, CAPS, chair of the NAHB Remodelors™ Council.
Home owners are more likely to lack experience with typical renovation and remodeling jobs and tend to work in their free time, thus increasing and prolonging potential exposure to lead dust, he said. “The unintended consequence of making it more difficult to hire a remodeler actually increases the chance that children could be exposed,” he said.
NAHB supports voluntary lead-safe work practices and continues to work on developing them. A voluntary program, combined with effective consumer education, would create a more affordable market for consumers requesting a remodeling firm that employs lead-safe work practices, Butler said.
"By eliminating mandated work practices no matter what the job, there is a greater likelihood that a home owner needing a lead-safe contractor can afford one,” Butler said. “There’s also less incentive for a home owner to find an alternate and potentially less safe way to get remodeling work done.
“A focused attempt to improve the housing conditions of affected families is more likely to reduce lead exposure problems than targeting an industry that serves less than 50% of home owners,” he said.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.