Posted by: jeb1 | July 12, 2010

What Does the EPA’s Lead Rule Enforcement Delay Mean for Remodelers?

NAHB continues to seek clarification regarding a June 18 memo, in which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delayed enforcement actions concerning training and firm certification requirements under the Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule until Oct. 1.

The issue: While contractors won’t be fined or prosecuted for lack of certification, the lead-safe work practices requirement still stands.

For certified firms and Certified Renovators this delay does not change anything. The delay is more of a problem for remodelers working in pre-1978 homes who are still required to follow the EPA’s lead-safe work practices, even if they have been unable to obtain the EPA-approved training.

The delay grants more time to obtain training and certification for remodelers who have been thus far unable to find a class. However, the EPA has stated it will continue enforcement on work practices. This means remodelers must follow the work practices or avoid working in pre-1978 homes.

To avoid enforcement, contractors must enroll in Certified Renovator training with an EPA-approved training provider by Sept. 30 with the expectation that the training must be completed by Dec. 31. Remodelers must also apply to EPA for firm certification by Sept. 30.

This enforcement delay does not delay removal of the opt-out waiver on July 6. (See EPA to Revoke the Lead Paint Opt-Out Waiver for more details).

The EPA requires all remodelers working in pre-1978 homes to follow the lead-safe work practices. Remodelers will need to:

  • Give customers the pre-renovation pamphlet (Renovate Right) and have them sign verification of notification
  • Set up work area containment
  • Employ lead-safe work practices, such as using HEPA-filter equipped tools and not using open flames to remove paint
  • Conduct thorough cleaning after work is finished
  • Complete the cleaning verification process

Additionally, this memo does not preclude private citizens from filing lawsuits under the rule. Remodelers still need to maintain vigilance concerning possible liability issues.

Remodelers can search for an EPA-approved training provider or can contact their local home builders association to find Certified Renovator training sessions.

Remodeling firms must also become EPA-certified by submitting a form and $300 fee.

For more details about the work practices established by the EPA in the rule see the EPA Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right.

NAHB has contacted the enforcement division at the EPA to clarify points of their memo and will have more updates as soon as possible.

A Win for NAHB

“EPA listened to our concerns and did the right thing,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a builder and developer in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. 

In the revised guidance released on Friday, EPA acknowledged that remodelers in many parts of the country have been unable to obtain the required training to comply with the rule – a problem that NAHB has urged the agency to solve since the rule was announced two years ago.

The issue came to a head in May after floods devastated parts of Tennessee and there weren’t enough certified remodelers to complete much-needed home repairs. NAHB and the state home builders association proposed a delay in enforcing the rule — a decision EPA consented to in its letter on Friday.

EPA’s action is in direct response to NAHB’s continued involvement in the lead rule, which it acknowledged in the memo.

NAHB’s actions also included a petition to delay the rule, NAHB’s work with the HBA of Tennessee to provide relief in areas damaged by the recent flooding, NAHB’s strong support of Senator Collin’s (R-ME) amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations Act that would delay the rule’s effective date, and NAHB’s efforts to educate the Members of Congress on the rule and its ramifications.

Rule Still Poses Many Challenges

“This rule potentially affects about 79 million homeowners. That’s how many homes were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned,” Jones said in press release sent after the memo was made public. “We need significantly more contractors certified than the 300,000 who have taken the training course, and we also need to make sure that affected homeowners understand the importance of hiring a certified contractor.”

While NAHB achieved a rare victory in the regulatory arena, the EPA’s lead rule still presents many challenges that NAHB continues to actively address.

These issues include removal of the “opt-out” waiver on July 6, the proposal to add clearance testing to the rule, and the EPA’s plans to expand the rule to commercial buildings.

Remodeler Leaders Meet with EPA

NAHB Remodeler leaders Bob Hanbury, CGR, and Bob Peterson, CGR, CAPS, CGP met with Assistant Administrator Steve Owens and other EPA officials on Wednesday, June 23 to discuss the problems associated with the agency’s recent proposal to require clearance testing under the lead rule.

Clearance testing would add more expense, increase liability and further blur the lines between remodeling and lead paint abatement contractors, Hanbury and Peterson told EPA leaders.  It would also require additional technical training for the industry when remodelers already are struggling to obtain training in existing certification requirements.

Before meeting, Owens’ office ruled out any discussion regarding the confusion over the agency’s decision to extend through September the deadline for enforcing the lead paint certification requirements, telling NAHB that another division within the agency would issue clarifying language – including explaining how remodelers and other contractors can continue to be expected to abide by lead-safe work practices.

This latest meeting was part of NAHB’s continuing efforts to work with EPA on a sensible lead paint work practices rule that also encourages consumers to choose a lead-paint certified remodeler rather than complete the work themselves. Although EPA launched a consumer public relations campaign about the rule, it’s yet to gain traction and home owners remain unaware of rule costs, requirements, and the dangers of attempting do-it-yourself remodeling.

For more information visit www.nahb.org/leadpaint or email Matt Watkins at NAHB or call 800-368-5242 x8327.

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