Plans for Commercial Lead Rule Return
After a hiatus of nearly two years, federal regulators are taking a baby step toward a new rule for controlling lead-paint hazards in commercial and public buildings.
Today (May 30), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to publish “Framework for Identifying and Evaluating Lead-Based Paint Hazards from Renovation, Repair, and Painting Activities in Public and Commercial Buildings” in the Federal Register.
Pre-publication copies of the announcement and the Framework (which are not considered official until publication) were released Wednesday (May 28).
The agency is seeking public comments on the document through www.regulations.gov. The docket number is EPA-HQ-OPPT-2010-0173. The comment period runs for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
The Framework document serves as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; it is not a proposed rule.
The goal of the Framework is to "describe an approach for identifying and evaluating potential hazards created by renovations of public and commercial buildings," according to EPA.
The agency has been under pressure from contractors, builders, property owners and managers, and materials suppliers to document a problem before taking any action to expand the controversial Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule for residential and child-occupied facilities.
The RRP rule took effect in April 2010, and the EPA immediately announced plans to expand the mandates for lead-safe practices and certification to commercial and public-works construction.
The agency's RRP proposal for exterior renovations for public and commercial buildings was originally set to be issued by September 2012 and finalized in February 2014.
|National Park Service|
New lead rules for commercial and public buildings would affect renovation work such as the 2010 lead-paint removal project at Dinosaur National Monument.
Such a rule would potentially apply to workers and companies involved in building construction, specialty trades, real estate and other "general governmental support."
Critics Weigh In
Opponents, however, said EPA needed to document a problem and all potential costs before unloading a new rule. The critics included EPA's own Office of Inspector General, which issued a report in July 2012 criticizing the agency's economic analysis of the original RRP rule.
In September 2012, EPA announced that it would delay expansion of the rule until July 2015.
In May 2013, 22 trade organizations, collectively called the “Commercial Properties Coalition,” submitted 61 pages of comments on the plan to expand the program. The industry demanded proof of a “hazard and causal link” between renovation work and lead-based paint in public and commercial buildings before EPA drafted a new rule.
|Gentletouch1954 / Wikimedia Common|
The commercial building industry notes that commercial buildings cover a vast range of ages, styles, configurations and purposes. EPA says it will develop model renovation scenarios for various potential exposures.