NAHB Urges Passage of Federal Lead Exposure Reduction Act

April 2012Articles In the Zone

Responding to concerns from the National Association of Home Builders, remodelers and affiliated trade groups, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced legislation to make much-needed improvements to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule on March 1.

The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 (S. 2148) was introduced with five original cosponsors: Sens. Charles Grassley (RIowa), David Vitter (R-La.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). The rule, which took effect on April 22, 2010, requires that remodelers and contractors working in homes built before 1978 be trained and certified by the EPA on lead-safe work practices before they can legally work in those homes. On July 6, 2010, the EPA removed the “opt-out” provision in the LRRP that allowed remodelers working in a home built prior to 1978 to forego more expensive work practices according to the owner’s wish if no children under the age of six or pregnant women resided there. By removing the optout provision, the EPA more than doubled the number of homes subject to the LRRP, and the agency has estimated this will add more than $336 million per year in compliance costs to the remodeling community. Further, the EPA has failed to approve a test kit that meets the “false positive” and “false negative” criteria stated in the regulation.

By not performing a study of lead exposure rates from work on commercial and public buildings, the agency has also exceeded its mandate granted by Congress by starting the process of extending the LRRP to those structures through an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Sen. Inhofe’s legislation would address these concerns and offer other reforms for EPA enforcement of the lead paint rule. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Reinstate the opt-out provision to allow home owners without small children or pregnant women residing in them to decide whether to require LRRP compliance, not the government.
  • Suspend the LRRP if EPA does not approve a commercially available test kit that meets the regulation’s requirements.
  • Allow remodelers the “right to cure” paperwork errors found during an inspection. Eliminate the “hands on” recertification training requirements.
  • Prohibit the EPA from expanding the LRRP to commercial and public buildings until at least one year after the agency conducts a study demonstrating the need for such an action.
  • Clarify the definition of “abatement” to specifically exclude remodeling and renovation activities.
  • Provide an exemption to the regulation for emergency renovations.