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EPA Begins Enforcement of Unpopular Lead Rule

Thursday, September 30, 2010

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Enforcement Day has finally arrived for the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial “Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule,” despite months of efforts by contractors, suppliers and others to delay, block or soften the measure.

The rule requires EPA lead-safe certification of firms and contractors whose work disturbs more than six interior square feet of paint in a home, school or day-care center built before 1978.

The rule, approved in 2008, was implemented April 22 but immediately drew fire from associations, builders, legislators, retailers, paint manufacturers and others, who called it onerous, expensive and unnecessary and its message too alarmist.

EPA then announced that it would delay enforcement of the measure until Sept. 30, to allow more time for training.

Training and Enforcement

Opposed or not, most contractors and firms affected by the rule have been certified. As of Sept. 23, EPA said it had trained about 476,700 people in the construction and remodeling industries in lead-safe work practices. The agency said its 364 accredited training providers had conducted more than 21,400 courses.

Effective Sept. 30, any individual workers who have not been certified must be enrolled in a certified renovator class and must complete the training by Dec. 31. Firms must be certified by Oct. 1.

EPA says it will “take enforcement actions against renovation firms and individuals who do not comply with the RRP work practices and associated recordkeeping requirements.” These include dust control, site clean-up and work area containment. Fines for violations range up to $37,500 per day.

“It is important that contractors take proactive steps to protect children, families, and themselves while they take the training and file the appropriate paperwork,” EPA says.

No Opt-Out

RRP came under fire for many reasons. Critics contended that EPA had not provided sufficient training opportunities and that the measure would cost businesses more than EPA was admitting. The American Coatings Association expressed outrage at the agency’s Public Service campaign, which shows a bucket of paint being poured into a sippy cup, cereal bowl and baby bottle.

However, opponents were perhaps most upset over EPA’s refusal to allow homeowners to opt their contractors out of the RRP requirements.

The rule originally included an opt-out provision, but EPA withdraw it shortly after the implementation date, saying that improper renovations in older homes could create lead hazards for residents and visitors.

The ban on opt-outs took effect July 6.

Paint manufacturers say the RRP public awareness campaign is inflammatory, misleading and inaccurate.

Opposition Efforts

Critics tried numerous avenues of appeal, recruiting letters and legislation from lawmakers, filing a suit for court review of the rule, and seeking to have the public service ads banned. None was successful.

EPA says RRP will help curb lead poisoning, which now affects almost one million children in the United States. Elevated blood lead levels can lead to lower intelligence, learning disabilities, and behavior issues in children, while adults exposed to lead hazards can suffer from high blood pressure and headaches.

Compliance Webinar Set

RRP expert Burt Olhiser will answer questions about RRP compliance and lead-safe best practices at a free webinar scheduled for 11 a.m. EDT Oct. 6.

The webinar, “Good Practice and Regulatory Compliance in Lead Paint Removal from Commercial and Residential Structures,” is hosted by Durability + Design magazine and sponsored by Dumond Chemicals Inc. and Dustless Technologies.

Olhiser, president of Vantage Point Consulting, is a CDHP Lead Related Construction Professional. A former painting contractor, he is an instructor for the University of California-Berkeley’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Health program. He also has worked as environmental health and safety director and quality-control manager for a major industrial painting contractor in California.

To register for the webinar, visit

Updated information on the lead RRP program is available at


Tagged categories: EPA; Health and safety; Lead; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP)

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