Understanding EPA lead rules
Updated: October 1, 2012 3:15PM
Oak Park — It’s no secret Oak Park and the surrounding area has many vintage houses, with many built pre-World War II.
So when an amendment to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting” rule went into effect in April 2010, I wondered how local painters, contractors and others would be affected.
The rule was designed to address lead-based paint hazards created by home renovation, repair and painting that disturb lead-based paint. It added strict regulations, and anyone performing work that disturbed lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes had to be EPA-certified. It also stated firms use certified renovators trained by EPA-approved providers to follow lead-safe work practices.
If you didn’t follow the new rules, heavy fines could be imposed
At that time, a survey was conducted using hundreds of remodelers, asking about the effect of the EPA’s rule. Sixty-five percent of respondents said the regulations lost them business. And although the EPA estimated extra project costs at $35 to $376, depending on the job, 37 percent of remodelers said the rule, as-is, added more than $1,000 to the average job. Eighty-one percent estimated it added more than $400.
That’s quite a chunk of change for a contractor to cough up.
Seems the contractors were right. Late last month, the EPA’s inspector general reported the findings of an investigation into the agency’s economic analysis of the rule, according to the EPA’s Web site. The report determined the EPA underestimated the rule’s cost and overestimated its benefits.
Painters and contractors should be glad to hear that the report also recommended the rule’s benefits and costs be reexamined and it be determined whether the rule should be “modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed” to get rid of unnecessary and burdensome regulations. The inspector’s report also recommended the EPA revise its training manual, so mandatory work practices are more clearly identified.
The main concern about the spread of lead is geared toward children under 6 and pregnant women. One other matter to consider is that pets can walk in lead dust, too. On pre-1978 homes, common renovations that require sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips from lead-based paint.
Seems the inspector general has spoken. I just hope the EPA listens.~