National News: EPA to Revoke Lead Paint Opt-Out Waiver on July 6, Include All Homes Built Before 1978

On July 6, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will expand the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule to include all homes built before 1978 homes by removing the “opt-out” provision, which had allowed home owners of residents where no pregnant women or children under age six live to waive the requirements of the rule.

The new mandate will increase the number of homes covered by the lead rules from an estimated 9.4 million to about 79 million, even though the EPA itself estimates that a significantly smaller number of homes — about 38 million — still contain lead paint.

NAHB vigorously opposed this change, arguing that the EPA was greatly and unnecessarily increasing the cost of a rule without providing additional health benefits or protecting children from potential lead exposure.

The lead rule change, published in the Federal Register on May 6, also requires remodelers to share a copy of the compliance records (such as the confirmation of customer lead education, checklist of followed practices, and any lead testing results) with the home owners within 30 days of completion of the work.

EPA Moves to Add Clearance Testing

In another rule proposal published in the Federal Register on May 6, the EPA declares its intention to require remodelers conduct lead abatement-style testing, meet clearance under certain situations, and share lead testing results with home occupants and owners.

This change would turn remodelers into abatement contractors, requiring that they achieve EPA’s strict numerical limits for lead dust levels if a remodeler uses a power tool to disturb a painted surface or removes by destructive means six square feet of plaster and lath.

See NAHB’s Summary of EPA’s Proposed Rule for “Lead: Clearance and Clearance Testing Requirements for the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program” for a full review of the new requirements proposed by the EPA.

NAHB is preparing comments on behalf of the members and also recommends members submit individual comment letters to the EPA and reach out to Congressional representatives on the EPA’s actions to further burden remodeling businesses with expensive regulation requirements. NAHB has created a template letter for members to submit comments.

Next Target: Commercial Buildings

The EPA also plans to amend the rule to expand its scope over both public and commercial buildings. NAHB will follow this development but expects the proposal to come out after the clearance testing amendment. See the advanced notice of rule making as published in the Federal Register.

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