Volume 11, Issue 4 - May 2010


Lead Paint
EPA Stands Firm with Implementation Date

But Will Congress Come to the Industry’s Rescue?
by Tara Taffera

As anticipated by the industry, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 23 that it will remove the opt-out provision in its 2008 Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, which affects homes built prior to 1978. The final rule was filed with the Federal Register on May 6, and will go into effect on July 6. (See page 29 for late-breaking news regarding this story.)

Despite industry opposition, including a rally held in Washington, D.C., on April 15 that was organized by the Long Island Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, (NARI), the EPA announced on April 23 that it would move forward with the program.

This was despite the fact that Rep. Tim Bishop (D - N.Y.) attended the rally and pledged his support to seek a delay of the April 22 implementation date. (For more information on and video footage from the rally, visit dwmmag.com. Also, see page 4 of this issue.)

“I am determined to do whatever I can to delay this lead rule,” Bishop told the contractors in attendance.

Associations Take Action; React to EPA Decision
That same week, members of the Northeast Window and Door Association (NWDA) met with many members of Congress during the association’s annual Washington Fly-In and aimed to inform them of the EPA rule. They reported that most members of Congress were unaware of this issue, including Sen. Arlen Specter (D - Pa). NWDA members participated in a town-hall style meeting on April 14 at the U.S. Capitol and questions involving the lead paint rule dominated the question-and-answer session. Specter’s staff vowed to look into the issue but at the time it appeared to be too late.

Other associations also were involved in meeting with the EPA and Office of Management and Budget to inform these entities of the effect portions of this rule would have on the door and window industry. This included the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association.

Following the EPA’s announcement, all expressed disappointment with the decision to remove the opt-out provision.

“The WDMA still maintains that EPA has not provided adequate data nor [has it] shown any benefits or similar rationale for expanding the RRP rule, which will add nearly 40 million more homes without the presence of pregnant woman and children 6 and under to the 38 million already covered,” says Jeff Inks, WDMA vice president of code and regulatory affairs. “The continuing lack of enough EPA certified trainers, firms, renovators and accurate test kits have the potential to create major problems in the home retrofit market and hinder the fragile recovery in our industry.”

“This announcement is a disappointing set-back for the fenestration industry,” adds Rich Walker, AAMA president and chief executive officer. “Removing the opt-out provision also adds to the cost of window replacement for a segment of the homeowner population that can least afford it—senior citizens on fixed income[s]. These additional fees could deter homeowners from making energy-efficient improvements and thus offset the positive impact from programs such as Home Star that could have lifted our industry out of the economic abyss.”

Doug Dervin, owner of Double D Contractors in Hicksville, N.Y., is one of the many contractors that will be affected by this change. He also was integral in the planning of the rally at Capitol Hill. Following the EPA’s April 23 announcement, Dervin admitted to feeling dejected.

“I feel defeated and I’m not that kind of guy,” he says.

Dervin is concerned about the effect this rule will have on his remodeling business, which already is suffering.

“I’ve laid off employees during this downturn … And now I have essentially one month left to sell windows with the opt-out clause,” he told DWM magazine.

Another contractor who had lobbied to retain the opt-out rule is Jim Lett, owner of A.B.E. Windows and Doors in Allentown, Pa.

At the rally in D.C. Lett pointed out that only nine percent of his customers would fall into the category of pregnant women or families with children under the age of six.

“What I do have a problem with is putting this burden on the other 91 percent of my customers,” says Lett.

Lett and Dervin also disagreed with the EPA’s estimation that the cost of a window installation would only increase by $35. Lett estimates it at more than $100 per opening.

However, there are some companies in the industry who say they won’t raise costs. One of these is Feldco Windows, Siding & Doors, based in Des Plaines, Ill., which says all of its locations already are EPA-certified for lead-based Renovation, Repair and Painting.

”We hope that with our experience and our expertise that we will be able to provide the additional materials and work required without increasing our prices at all,” says Doug Cook, Feldco president. ”We think we have the technical capability and skilled employees to be able to provide this enhanced service without increasing the price to the homeowner.”

Cory Shiller, executive vice president of Power Windows, based in Brookhaven, Pa., says the company hoped initially to not raise prices but this has since changed.

“It is a little more costly than we originally thought and we will have to raise prices slightly but we are trying to absorb as much as possible,” he says.

Late-Breaking Change
House and Senate Introduce Legislation to Delay EPA Lead Rule
Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stood firm on its decision not to delay the April 22 implementation date of the Lead; Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program, legislation has now been introduced in the House and Senate that could delay the rule for at least one year until more contractors are trained.

H.R. 5177, introduced on April 29 by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R - Mont.), has 16 co-sponsors, and would “delay the implementation of certain final rules of the Environmental Protection Agency in States until accreditation classes are held in the States for a period of at least one year.”

According to the legislation, the EPA Administrator shall:
(1) monitor each State to determine when classes described in subsection (a) are offered in the State; and
(2) provide to each Member of Congress representing the State a notification describing—
(A) the location and time of each such class held in the State; and
(B) the date on which the classes have been held for the 1-year period described in subsection (a).

The House bill had been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce at press time.

The Senate version of the bill, S.3296, was introduced on May 4 by Sen. James Inhofe (R - Okla.) and has 26 co-sponsors. It was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Check www.dwmmag.com for the latest updates.


Reader Feedback
The various articles that have appeared on the lead paint regulations in recent months have elicited numerous reader comments on dwmmag.com. Following are a few excerpts of what readers on all sides of the issue are saying.


“Contractors need to quit fighting change. Do it right or stay home!”


“I assure you, I will not be paying extra for windows in my home to satisfy EPA’s bureaucratic meddling … The opt-out provision is a reasonable attempt to minimize the cost impact of protection for those families who need it. Get the government out of the lives of everyday folks!”


"This will only depress an already depressed market. Most homeowners will just find someone who is non-compliant and get the work done cheaper. Great job, EPA.”


“I think the EPA dragged their feet enough on this issue and basically had to make a decision to get all contractors on board.”


The Finer Points
A Look at the Nuts and Bolts of the Final Requirements
The main portion of the rule affecting door and window contractors is EPA’s elimination of the “opt-out” provision that currently exempts a renovation firm from the training and work practice requirements of the rule where the firm obtains a certification from the owner of a residence he or she occupies that no child under age 6 or pregnant women resides in the home and the home is not a child-occupied facility. EPA also is requiring renovation firms to provide a copy of the records demonstrating compliance with the training and work practice requirements of the RRP rule to the owner and, if different, the occupant of the building being renovated or the operator of the child-occupied facility. In addition, the rule makes minor changes to the certification, accreditation and state authorization requirements.

According to the document, “Shortly after the RRP rule was published, several petitions were filed challenging the rule. These petitions were consolidated in the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. On August 24, 2009, EPA signed an agreement with the environmental and children’s health advocacy groups in settlement of their petitions. In this agreement EPA committed to propose several changes to the RRP rule, including the changes discussed in this document regarding the opt-out provision and recordkeeping requirements.”

According to the document, target housing was a large consideration in the EPA’s decision.

“By removing the opt-out provision, the rule will go farther toward protecting children under age 6 and pregnant women, as well as older children and adult occupants of target housing where no child under age 6 or pregnant woman resides,” reads the rule. “Therefore, the opt-out provision will no longer be available to owner-occupants beginning on the effective date of this final rule.”

Additionally, the EPA report on the rule says that removal of the opt-out will result in fewer homes being purchased due to lead hazards created by renovation, repair and painting activities.

“Under the RRP rule, the opt-out provision was limited to owner-occupied target housing and did not extend to vacant rental housing because of the concern that future tenants could unknowingly move into a rental unit where dust-lead hazards created by the renovation are present,” writes the EPA. “In the same way, dust-lead hazards created during renovations in an owner-occupied residence conducted prior to a sale will be present for the next occupants. It is common for home wners to hire contractors to perform activities that disturb paint before selling a house, thus increasing the likelihood of lead hazards being present for someone buying a home, which may include a family with a child under age 6 or a pregnant woman.”

The EPA also states that the opt-out provision complicates the outreach and education about lead hazards and makes the rule more complicated for renovators to apply and consumers to understand.

“Furthermore, it not only assumes literacy but also a working knowledge of what the rule would otherwise require and an ability to provide informed consent,” writes EPA.
EPA believes that populations that already have the highest risk factors for lead exposure may be adversely affected by the complexity of a rule that contains the opt-out provision.
The EPA says it conducted a dust study which demonstrated that renovation, repair, and painting activities produce lead dust above the regulatory hazard standards. In fact many renovation activities create large quantities of lead dust. The study shows that renovation activities result in lead levels many times greater than the hazard standard when the RRP rule containment and cleanup procedures are not followed, according to EPA.

“Under the opt-out, contractors performing renovations would have no obligation to minimize or clean up any dust-lead hazards created by the renovation,” reads the report. “Indeed, contractors would not be prevented from using practices that EPA has determined create hazards that cannot be adequately contained or cleaned up even when following the RRP rule requirements.”

The EPA says that as part of its preparations to administer the RRP program, it has been developing an education and outreach campaign aimed at consumers.

“In promulgating the RRP rule, EPA recognized the importance of education and outreach to consumers, to teach them about lead-safe work practices and to encourage them to hire certified renovation firms. The EPA has determined that copies of the records required to be maintained by renovation firms to document compliance with the work practice requirements, if provided to the owners and occupants of the renovated buildings, would serve to reinforce the information provided by the “Renovate Right” pamphlet on the potential hazards of renovations and on the RRP rule requirements.”

EPA’s Response to Rule Objections
EPA addresses a number of concerns it heard from industry representatives during the development of the rule, including that eight hours was not long for a training course for renovators.

“EPA agrees that the eight-hour renovator course, instead of a longer abatement course, is more closely related to what principal instructors must know in order to teach the renovator training,” reads the rule.

Though many had also expressed concern about the availability of accurate test kits, EPA says in the report that “test kits that more accurately determine whether a painted surface qualifies as lead-based paint will become available in late 2010.”

“Once the improved test kits are available, the number of renovation, repair and painting events using lead-safe work practices due to the rule in housing previously eligible for the opt-out provision is expected to drop to 3.0 million events per year,” reads the report.

EPA estimates costs to renovators that must become trained and lead-safe-certified to be approximately $500 million in the first year, and then $300 million the next year, “when improved test kits for detecting the presence of lead-based paint are assumed to become available.”
Though EPA points out that it did consider a delay in the effective date of the rule, it decided this ultimately would lead to more confusion and to safety concerns as well.

“EPA considered an option that would delay the removal of the opt-out provision by six months, and another option that would delay the date by 12 months,” writes EPA. “These options would make the RRP program more complex to implement and might lead to confusion by renovators and homeowners. These options would also lead to increased exposures during the delay period, including exposures to children under the age of 6 and pregnant women. Therefore, EPA believes that these options are not consistent with the stated objectives of the rule.”

Visit www.dwmmag.com for the 66-page document detailing the decision and many additional details of this rule.

Tara Taffera is the editor/publisher of DWM/Shelter magazine.


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