The Official Online Newspaper of NAHB
NAHB disagrees with an advance notice of proposed rulemaking by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to expand its “Lead; Renovation, Repair and Painting Program” requirements to commercial and public buildings.
The EPA’s action represents the beginning stages of a federal rulemaking process in which the agency is determining whether interior and exterior renovation activities performed in commercial and public building built prior to 1978 represent a lead hazard due to the lingering effects of lead-based paint dust that may be disturbed during typical renovation activities.
NAHB recently submitted comments — with a coalition of 15 other organizations, including The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association — arguing against the validity of the rule and asserting that the EPA lacks the legal authority to adopt the requirements in public and commercial buildings.
“We have already seen the negative effect of this on residential projects in our area, and now the EPA is proposing to expand the program to include commercial projects. This new rule will only push even more remodel work underground,” said Ted Clifton, of Clifton View Homes Inc. in Coupeville, Wash., a member of the board of trustees of NAHB’s Commercial Builder Council.
“There is already a huge drag on the construction industry by the underground economy, which pays no taxes but competes unfairly for the customer dollar,” said Clifton. “This rule will do absolutely nothing to protect consumers because of underground work — or consumers will opt to do the work themselves without the proper equipment or knowledge.”
In its comments, the coalition said that the statute under which the EPA would issue the rule does not give ihe agency the authority to issue work practice standards for lead renovation, repair and painting in public and commercial buildings.
If commercial builders and remodelers are already in compliance with basic remodeling and maintenance standards and regulations, the coalition argued, lead paint issues should not exist.
“In my 35 years,” said Steve Moore, of Moore and Company in Bellingham, Wash., “I have not encountered lead paint only once in commercial buildings here in Bellingham or Orange County, Calif.”
“There are a number of existing regulations already in place that are nbetter than this proposed rule, such as those for standard renovations. Simply enforce what already exists,” he said.
Comments submitted to the EPA also pointed out that potential exposure pathways in commercial buildings are much different than those in residential buildings. Furthermore, the coalition argued, the EPA has not collected data on potential lead-based paint dust exposure risks to children from renovation work in pre-1978 commercial buildings.
The EPA is expected to publish its position on health risks from renovation work in commercial buildings by July 2011, opening the door to further rulemaking.
For more information, visit NAHB’s web pages on the lead paint rule, the AGC’s background information on the Lead Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program; or e-mail Matt Watkins at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8327.