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In a letter sent on Sept. 17, NAHB has petitioned U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to amend the agency’s Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule “to reflect the lack of an improved EPA-recognized test kit and the economic ramifications stemming from the unavailability of such a test kit.”
“Without an affordable means to determine whether a property contains regulated amounts of lead-based paint, millions of properties that have no lead-based paint hazard will be subject to costly lead-safe work practices,” the letter said.
Remodelers, window installers, painters and other contractors working in homes built before 1978 are required to use federally mandated work practices and fulfill other requirements, including training and certification, if they “disturb” more than 6 square feet of painted surfaces inside or 20 square feet on the exterior of the home.
Homes with no children under the age of six or pregnant women — referred to as “target housing” by the EPA — had been exempt from the rule until July, when the agency removed the “opt-out” provision for those home owners.
Exceptions are made when there is proof that no lead paint exists in the work area — and the home remodeling industry has been waiting for the EPA to recognize a new, improved and inexpensive test kit.
The EPA told NAHB in a meeting earlier this month that no new kit is on the horizon; it had expected to roll one out by this month.
The alternative to an inexpensive test kit is having a risk assessor or lead inspector certify that the building components to be disturbed during the renovation are free of lead-based paint — using a much more expensive testing process that costs at least $150 and up to $2,000 per home, depending on the type of testing and the extent of lead paint present.
“NAHB believes that if the true costs of the lead paint rule were considered, the agency would not have finalized the rule as it exists today,” the letter said.
“NAHB strongly urges the EPA to examine the breadth of options available to reduce the costs and burdens,” the letter said. At “a minimum, NAHB urges the EPA to reinstate the opt-out provision for homes built after 1960, where only 24% of homes contain lead-based paint.”
“Under this scenario, compliance costs would be decreased, and the use of lead-safe work practices would be focused on those homes with a higher probability of the presence of lead-based paint,” the letter said.
To mitigate the effects of a rule that has become “substantially more expensive and complex than ever envisioned,” NAHB made four specific requests:
- Propose an amendment to clarify that existing test kits may be used after Sept. 1, 2010. While the EPA indicates that today’s unreliable test kits are still valid, the rule is not clear.
- Revise the economic analysis and reconvene with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to ensure the costs of the rule are in line with expected benefits and that the final rule is the most cost-effective alternative.
- Delay the effective date of the rule for post-1960 homes — those least likely to contain any lead paint — until an improved test kit is recognized.
- Consider alternative regulatory options to reinstate the cost savings that would have resulted with the existence of a commercially available, improved test kit.
For more information, e-mail Amy Chai at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8232.