LRRP: The Non-Problem That Won’t Go Away

Rich Walker
October 17, 2016
COLUMN : Industry Watch | Strategies & Practices

The Environmental Protection Agency went live with its Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule on April 22, 2010. The measure (40 CFR §745.85, under the section entitled Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention In Certain Residential Structures) asks a lot. It requires renovation work that disturbs more than six square feet in the interior of a home built before lead paint was banned in 1978 (including the installation and repair of windows) to follow Lead Safe Work Practices, supervised by an EPA-certified renovator and performed by an EPA-certified renovation firm. The work must then be inspected by an EPA-certified inspector. Failure to meet these requirements exposes the contractor to a back-breaking fine of $37,500 per violation, per day—presumably payable by a certified check.

Now, the LRRP has resurfaced for scrutiny under Section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which requires that federal agencies review each rule that has or will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of “small entities” within 10 years of publication of the final rule.

In responding to this renewed opportunity, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association reiterates its contention that requiring LRRP practices in homes where no pregnant women or children under six are residing, or in cases where lead is not present, is an unnecessary expense that may deter fenestration product replacement that would otherwise improve the energy efficiency of the building.

AAMA is weighing in and asking the EPA to make two key points: lead testing requirements must have attainable parameters, and window pocket replacement and sash kits should be considered minor repair and maintenance activities.

Attainable Parameters

EPA has provided contractors with a theoretical “out” in that contractors do not have to comply with the Rule if they can show, using an EPA-approved test, that the job area doesn't contain lead. However, the theory has not been backed up with the means.

There are still no test kits available that meet the negative testing requirement provided for under the Rule. This is not just due to bureaucratic inertia; it is scientifically impossible at this time to identify the amount of lead present to the precision and accuracy defined in the LRRP rule. The result of this continued lack of a reliable test kit is forcing companies to follow (and charge for) the expensive procedures, even when there may be no need to do so.

In order to support energy-efficiency improvement for the many existing older buildings, AAMA urges the EPA to restate the rule to align the test parameters with currently available technology. Specifically, we support all efforts to identify and/or develop a lead test kit that can easily be used in the field without specialized training and which produces accurate results compliant with the criteria set by the EPA back in 2008.

Minor Repair and Maintenance Activities

Window repair should fall under the definition of minor repair and maintenance—not renovation, as is now the case. While AAMA recognizes that window replacement disturbs painted surfaces, our position is that window repair, such as window pocket replacement and sash kits, does not significantly disturb painted surfaces. During these types of repairs, the frame remains in place and there is a very limited disturbance of the opening.

This position is supported by the EPA’s own 2014 FAQ #23002-19759, which states that “replacement of a window sash or door leaf by simply unscrewing hinges or releasing it from a jambliner does not constitute ‘window replacement’ for purposes of the RRP Rule. Therefore, such tasks may fit within the definition of minor repair and maintenance i.e., activities that disturb six square feet or less of interior painted surface, or 20 square feet or less of exterior painted surface.”

AAMA has accordingly suggested specific changes in the definitions of the terms “minor repair and maintenance” and “renovation” to clarify that window repair falls under the minor repair and maintenance definition.

By making these changes, simple window or door repair, such as pocket or leaf replacement and sash kits, would not fall under the parameters of the Rule, and consumers would be encouraged to make these minor repairs to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Given its mission to protect the environment and save energy, that’s a win-win for EPA, homeowners, window manufacturers and contractors.

Rich Walker is president and CEO of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, 847/303-5664, rwalker@aamanet.org.