EPA's New Layer of Lead-Based Paint Rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) Lead Renovation Repair and Painting Program (RRP) rule was fully implemented on April 22 2010. Under the current rules contractors who perform renovations repairs and/or painting projects in most pre-1978 housing child-care facilities and schools (i.e. that have or are assumed to have lead-based paint) must comply with federal accreditation training certification and recordkeeping requirements or risk fines of up to $37500 per day per violation. Adding to the already complex regulatory regime EPA has just taken three new actions that widen the rule’s potential impact on the construction industry. Most notably EPA is also exploring whether or not to impose the RRP requirements to the exteriors -- and possibly even the interiors -- of all public and commercial buildings.

AGC has distributed news articles that explain the legal requirements and a contractors responsibilities under EPA’s RRP rule which was finalized in 2008 with a compliance deadline of April 22 2010. When the rule came out it contained a provision that exempted a renovation firm from the training and work practice requirements if the homeowner provided a certificate declaring that no child under age six or pregnant women lived in the house. On April 22 however EPA finalized a rule effectively closing that exemption. EPA also made a separate rulemaking proposal that would require contractors to perform dust-wipe testing after most renovations covered by the RRP rule and provide the results to the owners and occupants of the building. In addition also on April 22 in an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) EPA announced its intention to apply lead-safe work practices and other requirements to renovations on the exteriors of public and commercial buildings. The advance notice also announces EPA’s investigation into whether lead-based paint hazards are created by interior renovation repair and painting projects in public and commercial buildings. If EPA determines that lead-based paint hazards are created by interior renovations EPA will propose regulations at a later date to address the hazards.

These actions come as part of a lawsuit settlement wherein EPA agreed to propose several revisions to the RRP rule.

In related news in response to an August 2009 petition submitted to EPA by the National Center for Healthy Housing the Alliance for Healthy Homes and the Sierra Club EPA has agreed to issue a proposal to (1) modify the regulatory definition of “lead-based paint” and (2) lower the regulatory dust-lead hazard standards. The Agency has not however committed to either a specific rulemaking outcome or a certain date for promulgation of a final rule.

Note: EPA can authorize states to administer and enforce their own RRP programs. Several states have already done so (e.g. Kansas Rhode Island Utah Mississippi Wisconsin Iowa and North Carolina) and several more have introduced legislation to take over the RRP rule.

Click here for the full story on EPA’s three new actions that widen the rules potential impact on the construction industry.

The bottom line is that all building contractors should assume they are likely to fall under the EPA’s lead paint RRP program at some point in the future and get the necessary training and certification now … rather than to wait until they happen to pick up that occasional renovation project on a pre-1978 building … or until federal EPA mandates the training certification and lead-safe work practice requirements for work on all buildings. The list of EPA-accredited RRP training providers is available online at http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/trainingproviders.htm. What is more as frequently reported in AGC’s Monday Morning Quarterback AGC Chapters themselves can become accredited training providers – click here for more information.

For more information please contact Leah Pilconis at (703) 837-5332 or pilconisl@agc.org.