The comment period for the EPA’s proposal to add clearance testing to the lead rule has been extended to Aug. 6. Remodelers and other affected industry professionals are urged to take this extra time to submit comments against adding lead dust testing and meeting lead clearance for specific remodeling activities.
NAHB has called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to drop its plan to require remodelers to perform clearance testing after completing jobs in homes where they either replaced or worked around lead-painted surfaces.
It’s the latest move in NAHB’s ongoing attempts to bring common sense and cost-effectiveness to the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, which became effective April 22.
Ironically, NAHB filed its comments on clearance testing just hours before EPA announced it would extend the deadline to submit letters and petitions regarding the new rule, which NAHB had asked the agency to do to allow for more study on the impact of clearance testing. NAHB members and others now have until Aug. 6 to submit comments.
“While NAHB supports the use of the rule’s work practices and its training and certification requirements, it makes little sense to further burden the American public with the high price of the proposal’s dust wipe testing and clearance requirements,” the NAHB comments said.
Under the current rule, remodelers must use a white paper cloth to clean the areas where they have been working and then compare the color of the residue on the cloth to an EPA-supplied card to determine whether the lead paint dust has been removed from any painted surfaces.
Under the clearance testing rule proposed by EPA, the remodeler would be required to send samples of surfaces both in the work area and immediately outside it to testing labs or hire a certified testing specialist to examine the home.
The new rule adds significant liability to the remodeling firm as it makes the remodeler responsible for lead exposure issues existing in the home before any work is performed, as well as outside the area in which the renovation work has taken place. The added expenses of testing – and accompanying liability insurance – will be passed on to the homeowner, making the certified remodeler’s work more expensive.
That’s not just a problem for remodelers’ bottom lines, but for consumer safety, NAHB said. “NAHB has consistently recognized that having remodeling activities performed by a professional remodeler makes homes safer, yet this proposal will further incentivize consumers to do the work themselves, hire uncertified contractors, or worse – do nothing at all,”
NAHB also questioned EPA’s legal authority to codify the proposed requirements. “The proposal is another 180-degree shift from the agency’s 2008 Final Renovation, Repair and Painting rule, [yet] EPA has not provided any additional data or evidence to justify dust wipe testing or clearance, and its Dust Study reaffirms the reliability of the cleaning verification work practice as sufficient for reducing lead dust levels below the current lead hazard standard,” the comments said.
The comments also questioned the impact of the proposed rule on the energy-efficiency tax credit and other incentive programs, pointing out that the money consumers receive for insulating their homes or buying more efficient heating and cooling equipment will be eaten up in the additional costs required by clearance testing.
“NAHB is equally concerned that requiring dust wipe testing and clearance will further stifle any recovery in the already suffering remodeling industry, compromise Presidential and Congressional initiatives to retrofit homes through programs like Home Star and the energy-efficiency tax credits and put more Americans out of work,” the comments said.
“NAHB supports EPA’s efforts to reduce the incidence of lead exposure, but is troubled that the proposed rule does little to meet this goal,” the comment letter said.