EPA Says 125,000 Contractors Will Be Lead Certified by April 22

April 13, 2010

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it is on target to implement the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule on April 22. The agency announced last week it expects more than 125,000 renovation and remodeling contractors to be trained in lead-safe work practices by the effective date for the rule requiring such training. 

The calls to delay implementation of the new rules have not ended, however. Citing a need for more trainers and a faster certification process, inaccurate test kits and a lack of preparedness on the part of the EPA, the National Association of Home Builders has petitioned EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to delay the new lead rule.

“NAHB and its builder and remodeler members fully support the goals of the rule, which is designed to protect children from the toxic effects of lead paint,” says Donna Shirey, president of Shirey Contracting in Issaquah, Wash., current NAHB Remodelers chairman. “Remodelers are working hard to get trained and certified under the EPA’s lead rule. But we continue to receive calls that they can’t find training and are waiting to hear back from the EPA on certification. It’s incredibly frustrating that despite our diligence, remodelers will be penalized after April 22 because of the EPA’s failure to plan.”

Other efforts to delay implementation of the rule include a letter recently signed by 10 senators, urging the Office of Management and Budget to ensure "there are enough certified renovators available to meet the compliance goals of the rule."  According to a press release from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, the letter from nine Republicans and one Democrat follows up OMB from Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), and a bipartisan group of members in the House of Representatives. Further, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) urged EPA at a recent hearing of the EPW Subcommittee on Children's Health to come up with a solution that will ensure that contractors have the opportunity to come into compliance with this rule and that children's health is protected.

“There has been tremendous progress by people working in the construction and remodeling trades to become trained in lead-safe work practices,” asserts Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. “EPA has been working hard to get the word out far and wide to contractors working in older homes, schools and day care centers that this training is available to help stop lead poisoning in children. All a contractor needs to do to be certified is take a simple one-day course.”

To date, EPA has certified 190 training providers who have conducted more than 4,900 courses, it reports. An estimated 100,000 people in the construction and remodeling industries have been trained in lead-safe work practices. Based on current estimates, EPA expects more than 125,000 contractors to be certified by the April 22 deadline.

EPA also says it has a number of efforts under way to expedite the training and certification process. In addition, it is introducing a print and radio campaign to highlight the benefits of hiring lead-safe certified firms.