Friday, May 8, 2015

EPA to Revisit Lead Test Kits

Here is a great gift in honor of National Home Remodeling Month: At long last – and after constant pressure from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) – the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been told to get to the bottom of the issue of faulty lead paint test kits with a series of public meetings that will start in early June.

As remodelers well know, the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule requires them to use expensive lead-safe work practices in all homes built before 1978 unless the homes have been tested to be lead-free.

The catch: Even though the introduction of an accurate, inexpensive lead paint test kit was part of the rule when it was written in 2008, that test kit never appeared when the rule became law in 2010.

Now, the choices are to either conduct an expensive, time consuming test or instead do the work under the presumption that lead-based paint is there. And that often triggers additional compliance costs and unneeded record-keeping requirements, costing remodelers and consumers time and money.

This has resulted in textbook examples of reverse incentives all over the country. Too many home owners who did not want to pay the additional costs of working with an EPA-certified renovator chose to work with fly-by-night operators who slid under the regulatory radar – and who possibly put the home owners at risk with their work practices.

This lose-lose situation is now changing.

On April 28, NAHB co-hosted with the National Center for Healthy Housing the first in a new series of meetings with regulators to see what is working and what needs to be fixed.

Also in attendance: officials from the Small Business Administration and representatives from industry, lobbyists, local government, and volunteer organizations.

At this meeting, EPA announced plans for the June event: the opening round of ongoing conversations in response to a congressional mandate that EPA step up the pace and figure out a test kit to meet the criteria within the 2008 rule. And that congressional directive is a direct result of your Home Builders Association’s persistent – and successful – advocacy efforts.

If no solution is reached by October 1, Congress has directed EPA to revisit the test kit criteria in the 2008 rule and solicit public comment on alternatives. And if a reliable and affordable test kit is not possible, then it is back to square one for the economic analysis EPA did in advance of the rules and ensure that the costs reflect actual experience.

Learn more about the EPA Lead Paint rule at

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