WDMA Opposes Addition of New Test Requirements to EPA Lead Rule

August 9, 2010

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week regarding a proposal to expand the current Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule. EPA is considering additional test requirements that could include expensive multiple dust wipe tests through EPA-approved labs after renovations are completed and depending on the type of renovation work. Under the proposal, this would ensure that the renovation work areas meet stringent clearance standards before re-occupancy, WDMA officials state.

"While we are still greatly troubled by EPA's decision to remove the opt-out provision from the original RRP rule without adequate justification, we are equally troubled by EPA's intent to mandate even more onerous clearance testing requirements, once again we believe without adequate justification and without a proper understanding of potential unintended negative impacts," says Jeff Inks, WDMA vice president of codes and regulatory affairs.

"To give a specific example, our members report that the actual cost of window replacement in homes covered by the rule range from $90-$170 per window opening, far greater than the average $35 per job originally and erroneously estimated by EPA. If the proposed additional dust wipe and clearance testing requirements are implemented by EPA, those costs will increase greatly," Inks continues. "We're concerned that will further discourage homeowners from making energy efficient renovations to their homes, which is unfortunate because of the limited benefit we believe the additional testing will provide. We are also concerned about reports that contractors are refusing jobs on pre-1978 homes that must comply with rule because of the significant liability associated with it."

WDMA outlined several other concerns in its comments to EPA, including:

  • EPA's lack of the authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to impose dust wipe testing or clearance requirements on renovators;
  • the EPA proposal's inconsistency with TSCA because it eliminates the distinction between lead abatement activities and renovation work;
  • the cost of the rules far outweighing any possible benefits;
  • EPA's failure to provide any data or circumstances to justify the proposed expansion of the lead rules.

WDMA also notes that problems associated with the new lead rule are exacerbated by the lack of lead test kits that can meet EPA's own standards.  Many consumers having renovation work done will be forced to incur the additional costs for the work and reporting requirements under the rule for no reason because of the likelihood of "false positives" from pre-renovation testing, triggering those requirements needlessly. Based on EPA's economic analysis of the rule, the "false positive" rate with respect to the rule's requirements is as high as 64 percent on average and there's no resolution to that problem in sight, the organization notes. 

In concluding its comments to EPA, WDMA says it fully supports the intent of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 and shares EPA's concern for protecting children and women who are pregnant from lead hazards. Officials assert, however, that "regulations put in place must be well substantiated, cost effective and practical."