WDDA Lobbying to Delay Lead Paint Rules

March 9, 2010
Government

Joining other industry trade groups, the Window & Door Dealers Alliance is lobbying Congress and federal regulators to delay implementation of the new Environmental Protection Agency lead paint rules, as well as preserve the "opt-out" provisions in the original rules. Three WDDA Advisory Committee members plan to make their case next week, when they meet regulators at the White House Office of Management & Budget on March 17, reports David Walker, WDDA executive, who will also attend.

"While the window and door industry has several concerns with these new rules, we nevertheless recognize the need to comply with them," Walker notes. "That said, it is a virtual certainty that the majority of window and door dealers around the nation will not be in compliance by the (April 22) required date. Though the rules were promulgated in 2008, our industry was not informed about the need for supplemental training and certification until much later."

The regulations originally included an "opt-out" provision allowing customers to sign a waiver releasing liability to the installing dealer as long as there are no pregnant women or children under the age of six living in the home, Walker also notes. "Our understanding is that this opt-out provision may not be part of the final rule," he continues, and WDDA is also lobbying to preserve what it sees as "a common-sense, cost-reducing carve-out that puts control in consumers' hands while not compromising health and safety."

"We have had 19 of our personnel certified—11 field personnel, four sales, and four management. Our company has also received our certification from the EPA. We have purchased the necessary equipment—HEPA vacuums, protective plastic, warning tape, cones, signs, etc. I had no issue with paying to have the majority of my staff certified," reports Jim Lett, president of A.B.E. Door & Windows in Allentown, Pa., and part of the WDDA delegation meeting regulators. "My concerns are that the EPA has not done an adequate job of getting the word out to the trades of their responsibility to comply with the regulations by April 22, 2010. And a much larger concern is if the EPA removes the opt-out provision it will add a significant cost with very little benefit. We estimate that removing the opt-out provision will add a minimum of $120 to a small project or approximately 10 percent to a larger project."

"We're pleased that the Window & Door Alliance is at the table with OMB," adds David Steele, president of The Window Gallery in Augusta, Ga., another WDDA representative. "It underscores what dealers can do when then they band together. We want opt-out and deferral. We need each to stay competitive. I’m concerned that the EPA has adopted a strategy that may cause more harm than good. Consumers may opt to avoid the extra costs associated with compliance and instead use non-certified firms that are unlikely to follow lead safe procedures.”

Steele also fears the new EPA  rules may cripple the one bright spot in the window and door industry. “On April 22, 2010 either work will stop on half the homes being renovated or 90 percent of the companies will be in serious violation of the law,” he predicts.

The WDDA group, as well as representatives of such organizations as the Window & Door Manufacturers Association, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, and the National Association of Home Builders, will be talking to officials at Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Part of OMB, the office is charged with oversight on all federal regulations under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, Walker notes.

WDDA has also been urging members and other window and door dealers to contact their representatives in Congress to urge a delay in implementation of the regulations, as well as preservation of the opt-out provision in the EPA regulations. "The delay will allow contractors, remodelers and renovators the time needed to attend training courses–which are currently in high demand or even sold-out–and earn their certifications. Without this added cushion, many quality service providers could have their insurance policies canceled due to carriers' concerns about liability associated with the lead paint rules," Walker states. "The additional time should likewise ensure that the kits used to detect lead are both reliable and accurate. Currently, the kits do not provide definitive results when testing to determine if lead is present and at a level to which the rule applies, or to test the work area for compliance once work is complete. Ideally, the regulations would be delayed until accurate tests are commercially available."

WDDA continues to hear that many dealers still have not heard of the lead paint rule, Walker states: "And we're hearing this from some of the largest and most conscientious dealers. Despite the EPA's assertion to the contrary, word simply has not been broadly or effectively spread." 

He urges dealers interested in learning more about WDDA's efforts visit its Web site at www.wddalliance.org.