AAMA Reiterates Call for Congressional LRRP Review

July 16, 2011
Organizations

Following up on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approval of a bill which would “defund” the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting activities, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association is urging legislative leaders to continue to examine the $1.5 billion LRRP and amendment rules, and to contemplate the impact of these rules on the nation’s employment rate, energy conservation, economic recovery, as well as the safety and health of the most vulnerable residents–pregnant women and children.

"We remain determined to require a Congressional review of the mishandling of this rule,” says Richard Walker, AAMA’s president and CEO. “The inability of the EPA to properly monitor compliance with the LRRP final rule and ‘opt-out’ amendment is now jeopardizing the very segment of the U.S. population deemed most ‘at risk’ by EPA’s own assessment, in addition to impeding a recovery of construction jobs and energy-efficient home retrofitting across the country.”

The 2008 LRRP rule requires that after September 1, 2010, any recognized test kit must meet both the negative and positive response criteria of no more than 5 percent false negatives and no more than 10 percent false positives, each with 95 percent confidence, as related to the regulated level of lead in paint of 1.0 mg/cm2 or 0.5 percent by weight. At this time, the test kits conform to the negative rate. AAMA is demanding an approved test kit that meets both criteria.

AAMA has repeatedly and continuously contacted the EPA regarding these issues and it has also remains diligent in its request for a Congressional review of the LRRP, officials note.  Among its recent steps was a July 11 letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee .

“By the EPA’s own account, the mandatory use of lead testing kits register false-positive readings in approximately 40 percent of homes tested, forcing the use of costly lead-safe practices where none are warranted,” states Walker. The EPA and U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that the continued use of these inaccurate test kits results in $200 million being spent annually by U.S. homeowners to erroneously apply the rule to home renovations where no lead, or lead amounts not rising to the levels deemed critical to EPA is present.

Further, the EPA now claims that the September 1st requirement of accurate lead test kits within the original LRRP should be interpreted to mean that any test kits identified for use after September 1, 2010 must meet the required criteria. “This amounts to little more than the use of arbitrary semantics to absolve the EPA from the responsibility of supplying test kits that meet the accuracy burden referred to within the final rule,” states Walker.

AAMA notes that EPA has also proposed creating LRRP requirements for public and commerical buildings, which would add more costs.  

“It is vital that the EPA and Congress understand the full impact that these regulations continue to have on the public and the construction industry as a whole,” emphasizes Walker. “Like many who depend on the construction industry for a living, we are astonished that a rule of this cost and magnitude was promulgated without the benefit of legislative scrutiny. We remain determined to require a Congressional review of the EPA’s implementation of LRRP and subsequent amendments, and we are committed to offer any assistance needed to ensure that this rule and subsequent amendments provide for the safety of homeowners, without severely impeding the recovery of the construction industry.”

Participants in all segments of the construction industry, along with Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy leaders, questioned the EPA’s decision to move forward on the LRRP, AAMA officials note. Prior to the promulgation of any additional amendments, AAMA says Congress should compel the EPA to provide positions on the following:

  • the current validity of the scientific data used in the original LRRP and subsequent amendments – and how this data excludes other sources of lead as contributing factors;
  • an explanation of the dichotomy of Centers for Disease Control research which clearly exhibits a rapid and continuous reduction in elevated blood lead levels in the U.S. during the same period of explosive, pre-LRRP renovations;
  • the EPA’s ability to provide effective outreach campaign to advise homeowners of the required use of lead-safe practices;
    the EPA’s action plan for alerting homeowners to the increased probability of being charged for lead-safe practices, where none are warranted due to the EPA’s mandated use of currently qualified, yet unreliable test kits and the continued use of these lead test kits with a high rate of false-positive readings that do not meet the EPA criteria of September 1, 2010;
  • the EPA’s ability to monitor compliance of the 7.2 million home renovations it projects will happen each year under proposed, future agency budget constraints and the severe economic burden of increasing the original LRRP cost to $1.3 billion.

“Home renovators who have paid for the required EPA training and certification credentials and who comply with the costly LRRP procedures continue to compete with non-compliant renovators who do not carry the same cost burdens," Walker states. "To avoid the additional costs of utilizing compliant contractors, homeowners are increasingly turning toward their non-compliant counterparts or conducting home renovations themselves, leading to an increased use of unsafe work practices,” he adds. “A lack of any substantive outreach campaign to homeowners, coupled with the EPA’s inability to properly monitor an estimated 7 million workers participating in the construction industry, continues to impede any modification on home repairs to ensure the safety of children and pregnant women.”