National News: Remodelers Struggle to Meet Lead Paint Rule Deadline Due to Lack of EPA Trainers

A shortage of EPA-accredited trainers means that home owners planning a remodeling project this spring may not be able to find a qualified remodeler if a new regulation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) goes into effect as scheduled, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

The regulation aims to reduce exposure to lead paint that may occur when a home built before 1978 is remodeled.

As of April 22, EPA will require all contractors working in homes built before lead paint was banned in 1978 to be trained and certified under the Lead Paint: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (LRRP). Contractors subject to the rule include remodelers, carpenters, plumbers, heating and air conditioning workers, window installers and others.

“We’ve gotten the word out to our members and they understand the new requirements and are working hard to get certified by the deadline,” said Donna Shirey, CGR, CAPS, CGP, president of Shirey Contracting in Issaquah, Wash., and 2010 chair of NAHB Remodelers. “Our local home building associations are offering certification classes to their members, but EPA hasn’t approved enough trainers to enable our members and other contractors to be certified on time, and that’s going to put remodelers and their customers in quite a bind.”

In fact, EPA has only approved 135 training providers and certified about 14,000 renovators in lead-safe work practices despite its own estimate that more than 200,000 contractors must be trained and certified. This will severely limit the number of remodelers able to work in older homes and will open the door to more fly-by-night contractors who will skip the training, skirt the law and put home owners at risk.

“EPA must extend the deadline so that consumers can find trained and certified remodelers for their projects. I talked to a group of our West Virginia members who had to travel all the way to Atlanta to take the training sessions because there are no trainers in their own state,” Shirey said.

Beginning April 22, owners of homes constructed before 1978 will need to ask their remodeler if they are an “EPA Lead Safe Certified Firm” because only certified firms will be able to work legally in those homes after the LRRP rule goes into effect, Shirey added.

“NAHB supports the intent of the rule to prevent childhood lead poisoning, and we’ve been working closely with EPA to educate contractors about lead-safe work practices,” said Shirey. “We just think EPA needs to do more to get the workforce trained and implement the program successfully so that home owners can keep their families safe from lead. We all need more time.”

For tips on planning a home remodel or hiring a professional remodeler, visit www.nahb.org/remodel.

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