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After a somewhat slow start because of a lack of certified trainers and training facilities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has now certified more than 511,000 trained lead-safe renovators and 64,000 remodeling firms to date, putting them in compliance with the Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule enacted earlier this year, agency officials told NAHB during a meeting at the National Housing Center on Nov. 4.
The agency also reported that it has stepped up its campaign to inform consumers of the need to use certified remodelers when remodeling homes built before 1978.
Until initiating a two-month advertising campaign in October involving more than 200 magazines including Parents, Parenting, Forbes and Money, the EPA primarily relied upon radio-based public service announcements and consumer-oriented fact sheets to inform consumers about the need to use certified professionals.
Under the lead paint rule, remodelers, window installers and other contractors who work in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities must be certified and use lead-safe work practices unless those homes are tested and found to be free of any lead paint. They also must conduct consumer education and verify the clean-up on projects that disturb lead paint in these buildings.
To date, 410 EPA-approved training providers have taught about 23,000 lead training courses. About half the trainers can travel to home builders associations, conferences or other opportunities to teach remodelers the necessary coursework.
Another 27 trainers have been approved to provide the required six hours of classroom training online. Two hours of hands-on training are also required for certification.
EPA officials also noted that Alabama, Georgia, Washington and the District of Columbia are in the process of adopting their own lead paint rule and becoming authorized by the EPA. They will join Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina, Mississippi, Kansas, Rhode Island, Utah, Oregon and Massachusetts, which have had their programs authorized by the EPA.
Test Kits Continue to Fall Short
EPA officials reiterated that the agency had no plans to discontinue using its inaccurate lead paint test kits. The two EPA-recognized test kits — D-Lead and LeadCheck — are too sensitive and test positive for lead below the federal lead hazard level of .05 mcg.
Since the test kits were first approved, NAHB has expressed concern that they can raise the cost of renovation and repair for home owners because remodelers will employ lead-safe work practices unnecessarily when the kit has found lead at levels less than those deemed actionable under federal health standards.
Home Owners Ignore Lead Paint Rule
During the meeting, NAHB raised remodelers’ concerns that many consumers — especially those home owners without children living in their household — were ignoring the lead paint rule and hiring uncertified contractors for their remodeling and renovation needs.
EPA officials acknowledged the problem and indicated that the agency will explore new consumer messaging to emphasize the need and legal requirement to follow the rule.
For samples of the EPA’s lead rule print ads, public service announcements and fact sheets, visit the EPA Lead-Safe Certification Program Outreach to Consumers webpage. For general EPA information on the lead paint rule, visit www.epa.gov/getleadsafe.