What's Your Status on New EPA Rules?

John G. Swanson
February 24, 2010
THE TALK... | Operations

Survey Results as of March 1, 2010:

What is your company status on the pending EPA lead paint rules?

We haven't taken any steps yet.




We expect to be ready by April 22, but we're not there yet,




The rules don't affect our company.




We're trained, certified and ready.




We're trying, but we don't expect to be ready by that date.




With less than two months to go before the effective date for EPA's lead paint requirements, it appears the industry has a long way to go.  Less than a third of our respondents indicated they are ready or expect to be ready by April 22. 

I received quite a few responses from people, most skeptical about the value of the rules, particularly compared to the potential impact. 

"I think it’s a job-killing measure that is an overkill by the EPA," writes one Georgia dealer. "Basically what I’m hearing from fellow glass/window people is that they are not aware of the new rule and most of the ones I’ve talked to said that they’d not work on houses built before 1978. The risk and penalty is way greater than the reward. I personally think it’s about the government getting money more than the safety concern. After 30 years, it’s now this huge problem? In this terrible economy the timing of these new rules comes at a bad time for all small contractors and homeowners alike."

"At a time when the government says they want more efficient houses, it simply does not make sense to raise the cost of the project on houses that need it the most," writes Tom Casey of Home Town Restyling in Iowa. "They should at least have the 'opt-out rule.' That way the groups of people ... can still improve their homes without being penalized. This is like a gun law; it will punish the professionals who get permits and pay workman’s compensation. The hatchet men that currently give our industry a bad name will now have a even larger price advantage."

"This is probably the worst thing ever done to the home improvement business. The extra costs," writes an Gregg Gardner of Gardner Home Improvements in Ohio, "will drive many customers away, which means less work, which means less help needed, which means no need of new trucks to haul the help and the products. I don't like to complain and try to keep upbeat, but I'm telling you this is putting us to the test."

"I think the date should be delayed," writes another Georgia daler. "Imposing expensive-to-implement regulations on the hardest hit sector of the economy during these times is very dangerous, and might be the last straw for some small businesses."

Whether they agree with the EPA regulations or not, a number of companies are moving forward. Like Seaway, mentioned earlier, Northeast Building Products in Philadelphia has been offering training for its customers. "We offered and facilitated five classes which held 48 dealers/contractor customers of ours," reports Jeff Witkin, executive vice president with the manufacturer. "The response on getting trained was, and is, so overwhelming, that we are now going to continue to offer our facility (for Kachina) to help get our customers certified for the April 22nd date. We feel that this is the right thing to do to help keep our customers up to date with current regulations."

Such efforts are laudable. Lead paint dust can be dangerous and needs to be addressed.  I think there is value in the training and certification requirements.  I do think, however, a delay on the implementation date for the EPA rules would be prudent.  The fragile state of the economy is one reason.  Another reason, I would suggest, is to allow EPA to get more industry feedback on how best to deal with this issue.

Industry professionals are not afraid of stepping up to the plate and doing the right thing.  Responsible company owners will want their workers to understand and follow proper procedures to protect themselves and their customers. Many, I bet, will eventually use lead certification as another selling point for their firms.

We can’t make the requirements too expensive or onerous, however. Lead certainly won’t be addressed if more jobs go to non-professionals.

If you want to get your voice heard on the topic, you can join the Window & Door Dealer Alliance in communicating with members of Congress and urging them to delay the effective date of  the new rules. The WDDA has drafted a letter that you can personalize and send to your representatives (find your local representatives online). This letter includes the official stance of the WDDA. Specifically, the industry is urging officials to support a deferral of the date of implementation and to preserve the opt out. The WDDA has also compiled a list of relevant Congressional Committee members (download in Excel or PDF) that need to be contacted. The letter, and the list of committee members, can also be found on the WDDA website. If you have any questions, please contact David Walker at dwalker@wddalliance.org or 866/342-5642 ext. 153.


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