EPA Releases Lead Paint Rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule governing professional remodelers doing work in homes where there is lead-based paint was signed by EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson last week and will take effect in April 2010.
The rule addresses remodeling and renovation projects disturbing more than six square feet of potentially contaminated painted surfaces for all residential and multifamily structures built prior to 1978 that are inhabited or frequented by pregnant women and children under the age of six.
“The rule is a positive step after so many years of delay,” said Lonny Rutherford, CGR, CAPS, the NAHB Remodelers chairman and owner of Legacy Construction in Farmington, N.M. “We all need to work together to help reduce the incidence of lead-based paint exposure to young children.”
The rule requires a cleaning inspection after the work is completed and grants the remodeler flexibility in determining the size of the work area, which can reduce the size of the area subject to containment.
The EPA rule also lists prohibited work practices ― including open-torch burning and using high-heat guns and high-speed equipment such as grinders and sanders unless equipped with a HEPA filter.
Additionally, the rule establishes required lead-safe work practices, including posting warning signs for occupants and visitors; using disposable plastic drop cloths; cleaning the work area with HEPA vacuuming and wet washing; and individual certification through a training course.
A 2006 NAHB study on lead-safe work practices showed that a home was better off after a remodel than before, as long as the work was performed by trained remodelers who clean the work area with HEPA-equipped vacuums, wet washing and disposable drop cloths.
“NAHB Remodelers supports lead-safe work practices and training,” said Rutherford. “We need to make sure that the cost of compliance is not so high as to discourage home owners from hiring a trained and certified remodeler. Otherwise, the rule creates a reverse incentive for consumers to do the work themselves and risk lead-paint exposure.”
NAHB Remodelers currently is looking at the training requirements and investigating the development of a lead-safe work practices training course for members, he added
Prior to being signed by the EPA administrator last week, the rule underwent final review by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). At that time, NAHB members met with OMB staff to outline the association’s concerns about the rule and cautioned regulators against imposing inappropriate and costly regulatory burdens on remodelers that would make it cost-prohibitive for consumers to hire trained professionals, or that could lead to further proliferation of potentially harmful do-it-yourself projects.
For more information on EPA's lead program in English and Spanish, and to obtain copies of the rule and information on how to comply, visit: www.epa.gov/lead.
For copies of the educational brochures on the program, call the EPA’s National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD (5323).
NAHB Remodelers and NAHB staff will continue to examine the rule and provide more detailed information on it and how to comply in the coming weeks.
For more information, e-mail Matt Watkins at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8327.