Know Your Regs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced 16 enforcement actions for the month of November 2012 for infractions of the lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP), which was finalized in 2008 and took effect in 2010.

Lead paint was used extensively prior to 1978 but has proven harmful especially to children.

Lead paint was used extensively prior to 1978 but has proven harmful especially to children.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and other groups affected by the rule continue to lobby Congress to repeal or alter the RRP as the new session begins.

Cythia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance says that “at least 4 million households with children have lead paint, and over a half million children have elevated levels of lead in their blood. But lead exposure is preventable when you know what to look for and what to do.”

Under the RRP rule, houses and facilities that have children as occupants built before 1978 that are undergoing renovation, or other construction-related activity, must be treated with lead-safe work practices by the contractor. This includes activities such as sanding, cutting, and replacing windows. The rule seeks to minimize lead-containing dust that can be harmful especially to children.

EPA has certain certification requirements that must be put in place so that firms and contractors are familiar with lead-safe work practices to minimize exposure to workers and occupants. The RRP also aims to educate building owners with “Renovate Right” pamphlets, which firms and contractors must supply to homeowners.

The EPA calculates fines based on how much a firm can afford without going out of business. The maximum fine is $37,500 per violation. 

The EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) is coming under fire for overestimating the benefits of the RRP and miscalculating the cost of compliance with the rule. The NAHB and other industry groups claim the rule is hurting housing and the economic recovery, and they will call on Congress to force EPA to revise the statute.

Have questions about lead-based paint? Leave a comment below, and I’ll be happy to answer them.

Stay lead-free, my friends.