EPA Delays Enforcement of Lead Paint Rule

June 19, 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency is delaying enforcement of the certification requirements of the lead renovation, repair and painting rule that went into effect in April. The move comes in response to concerns "raised by the regulated community regarding difficulties experienced in obtaining the rule required firm certification and renovation worker training," according to a memo sent out by the EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

"Acknowledging those concerns and to facilitate the transition to full implementation of the RRP," the EPA says it will not take enforcement action for violations for the RRP rule's firm certification requirement until October 1, 2010.

Additionally, the memo says, "For violations of the renovation worker certification requirement, EPA will not enforce against individual renovation workers if the person has applied to enroll in, or has enrolled in, by not later than September 30, 2010, a certified renovator class to train contractors in practices necessary for compliance with the final rules. Renovators must complete the training by December 31, 2010."

Despite the new enforcement dates for certification requirements, "nothing else has changed," notes David Walker, VP, Window & Door Dealers Association. "The lead safe work rules are still in effect—and you must continue lead-safe practices even if you are not certified."

"EPA listened to our concerns and did the right thing," says Bob Jones, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a builder and developer in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.  According to NAHB, the issue came to a head in May after floods devastated parts of Tennessee and there weren't enough certified remodelers to complete much-needed home repairs. NAHB and its state home builders association proposed a delay in enforcing the rule—a decision EPA consented to in its letter last Friday, the organization notes.

"While we appreciate EPA responding to the concerns raised by WDMA and others, we continue to have serious concerns with many aspects of the rule, including the removal of the opt-out provision and unreliable test kits, and the new rulemakings on clearance testing and expansion to commercial buildings," says Michael O'Brien, president of the Window & Door Manufacturers Association, responding to the announcement. "While everyone supports the goal of the rule, its complex and burdensome requirements have the potential to seriously impact the industry's fragile recovery and WDMA will continue to seek ways to mitigate those impacts."

"While we applaud the EPA’s decision to delay enforcement of the Lead-Paint, Renovation, Repair, and Remodeling rule until October 1, 2010, we understand that the agency intended to delay enforcement early on in the implementation process," says Walker. "Having said that, their decision nonetheless underscores the vigilance on the part of the WDDA, its members and other like-minded business organizations."

"As reflected in a recent national survey of dealers by the WDDA, the EPA’s lead rule is having adverse economic impact upon the country's window and door dealers, nearly without exception," he continues. "Dealer involvement is still critical to our long-term success. The fight continues. We look forward to continuing to work with the EPA and policy-makers in the interim to find a more agreeable solution."

"This rule potentially affects about 79 million homeowners. That's how many homes were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned," says NAHB's Jones. "We need significantly more contractors certified than the 300,000 who have taken the training course, and we also need to make sure that affected homeowners understand the importance of hiring a certified contractor."