The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tightened its brand-new lead-safe law by eliminating a loophole that had allowed residential contractors to opt out of the requirements with the homeowner’s consent.
The EPA’s “Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting” (RRP) rule took effect on Thursday, April 22, after a two-year implementation period.
The rule requires lead-safe certification of contractors and renovation firms that disturb a specified amount of paint in pre-1978 homes, schools and day-care centers. Contractors must also provide owners and tenants of those facilities with an EPA lead hazard pamphlet.
The rule was implemented with the opt-out provision unresolved. The provision would have exempted a contractor from compliance if he or she notified the homeowner about the rule, and the homeowner then agreed to sign a waiver for the contractor.
Critics, who include trade associations and retailers, said that eliminating the option would make an already-broad rule even broader, hitting even the smallest contractor with red tape and fees.
On Friday, April 23, however, the EPA announced that it was eliminating the provision; homeowners may not allow a contractor to opt out of full-scale compliance.
Thursday’s implementation came two years after the rule received final approval and six weeks after a challenge by a dozen retailers and trade associations. The critics contended that contractors had not had sufficient time or training opportunities to prepare and that another federal program in the works would require similar training. Eliminating the opt-out angered critics further.
Seven states have adopted their own RRP programs in lieu of the federal program. They are Kansas, Rhode Island, Utah, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Iowa and North Carolina.
Contractors will have an opportunity to personally question EPA about the rule in a free webinar April 29 sponsored by PWC: Painting & Wallcovering Contractor Magazine. Mark Henshall of the EPA will present an overview of the rule and take questions from participants. Visit www.pwc-magazine.com/webinars to register. A second free webinar, to be held June 24, will focus on compliance and enforcement.
Note: Contractors and training providers working in Utah, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina Mississippi, Kansas and Rhode Island must contact the state to find out more about its training and certification requirements.
For more information, visit www.epa.gov/lead.