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Bill Seeks to Loosen U.S. Lead Rules

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

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WASHINGTON--After five years of compliance, contractor groups are cheering a new congressional push to ease provisions of the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule on lead-safe practices.

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and nine co-sponsors reintroduced the “Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2015” (H.R. 2328) on May 15, a month after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency extended the recertification deadline for thousands of remodelers.

Child near window

The residential RRP rule was designed to protect building occupants from lead poisoning. Many homes built before 1978 still contain lead paint.

The bill calls for several revisions to the RRP rule, including reinstating an “opt-out” provision to allow homeowners without small children or pregnant women residing in the home to decide whether to require RRP compliance; allowing remodelers to correct paperwork errors without facing full penalties; and providing an exemption for emergency renovations.

Similar legislation introduced in 2012, 2013 and 2014 was unsuccessful.

Cramer’s bill has been referred to the House subcommittee of Environment and the Economy.

Joining Cramer as bill co-sponsors are Reps. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA); Pete Sessions (R-TX); Charles Fleischmann (R-TN); Rod Blum (R-IA); Steve Stivers (R-OH); Tim Murphey (R-PA); Collin Peterson (D-MN); Chris Collins (R-NY); Andy Barr (R-KY); and Blake Farenthold (R-TX).

Industry groups commended the reintroduction, saying the bill would make the rule “more workable.”

‘Opt-Out’ Controversy

The RRP Rule, which went into effect in April 2010, mandates lead-safe certification and work practices for contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb more than six feet of lead-based paint in most pre-1978 homes, child-care facilities and schools.

Lead exposure

EPA says exposure to lead can have devastating effects on children, including hearing damage, behavior issues and learning disabilities.

The new bill would reinstate an original provision of the rule that allowed homes without small children or pregnant women to waive RRP compliance, or opt out of the requirements.

EPA removed the opt-out provision in 2010 after environmental and children’s health-advocacy groups challenged it in court as part of a broader petition. The provision was removed in settling the suit.

"By removing the opt-out provision [...], the EPA more than doubled the number of homes subject to the rule, adding an estimated $336 million per year in compliance costs to the the remodeling community--without making young children any safer," the National Association of Home Builders announced in support for the legislation.

Lead Testing Kits

In addition to restoring the “opt-out provision,” the bill would suspend the RRP for homes without small children or pregnant women residing there, if EPA cannot approve one or more commercially available test kits that meet the regulation's requirements.


The RRP program, which took effect in April 2010, requires lead-safe practices during any work activities that disturb lead paint.

Some of that work is underway. A chemist with the EPA confirmed that the agency held a Lead Test Kit Stakeholder meeting on June 4 in Washington. The meeting was organized to seek information regarding:

  • The existing market for lead test kits as referenced in the 2008 RRP rule;
  • The development or modification of lead test kit(s) that may meet EPA’s positive-response criterion (in addition to the negative-response criterion); and
  • Other alternatives for lead-based paint field testing.

Minutes from the meeting will be available in the coming weeks, according to EPA chemist Toiya M. Goodlow.

Rule Expansion

The bill also seeks to prohibit EPA from expanding the RRP to commercial and public buildings until EPA conducts a study demonstrating the need for such an action.

architect of the capitol
Architect of the Capitol

Federal regulators are looking to expand the lead-safe requirements to commercial and public buildings. A restoration project on the U.S. Capitol Dome involved removing lead paint.

A proposed rule to expand the lead-safe requirements to commercial and public buildings is expected July 1, according to the Federal Register.

A comment period held in August 2014 received 186 comments from interested stakeholders.

Originally, EPA was set to issue a proposed rule by September 2012.

Recertification Changes

The bill would also eliminate the requirement that recertification training be “hands on,” preventing remodelers from having to travel to training facilities out of their region.

The EPA itself is currently proposing a rule to change the "hands on" requirements for the refresher training course that renovators must take to become recertified.

In April, the agency extended certifications of thousands of renovators who would be affected under new recertification rules.

The bill would also provide a “de minimus” exemption for first-time paperwork violations and provide for an exemption for renovations after a natural disaster.

Industry Groups Applaud Bill

Several industry groups, including the National Association of Home Builders, have applauded the legislation saying it responds to ongoing concerns.


Rep. Kevin Cramer and nine other members of Congress co-sponsored the legislation. Cramer serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“On the heels of EPA’s final rule extending the recertification deadline for thousands of remodelers, H.R. 2328 will make more common sense improvements for home owners and remodelers who must comply with the lead paint regulation’s costly requirements,” NAHB Remodelers Chairman Robert Criner, a remodeler from Newport News, VA, said in a statement.

“I commend the bill’s co-sponsors for their commitment to improve this complicated regulation.”

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association President and CEO Michael O'Brien also voiced support for the legislation,"This legislation is a common-sense fix which will refocus efforts on protecting the targeted demographic.”

Also endorsing the bill was the National Lumber and Building Materials Dealers Association.

“EPA has done a poor job of implementing the RRP rule, including failing to approve accurate test kits and removing the opt-out provision after the rule took effect,” said NLBMDA President and CEO Jonathan Paine.

“Reform is needed to make the rule workable for remodelers while protecting pregnant women and young children from lead exposure.”


Tagged categories: Health and safety; Lead; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Maintenance programs; Regulations; Renovation

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (6/9/2015, 8:34 AM)

So if I'm reading this proposal correctly - a landlord could wait until a unit is empty, conduct non-RRP work spreading lead dust everywhere, and then have a pregnant woman with 3 toddlers move in the next day and be fully exposed to the lead dust. Totally legally. Seems like a huge loophole designed to get rid of RRP without the formality of actually repealing it.

Comment from Catherine Brooks, (6/9/2015, 9:30 AM)

I am concerned about the OPT OUT PROVISION. What about homes with teens (outside the "targeted population") who track dust from their homes recently renovated in to other homes such as those of the toddlers for whom they babysit or homes of grandparents with kids visiting? When contractors are told that lead from their work areas can affect THEIR OWN REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEMS and be tracked home to THEIR OWN KIDS, they often listen and comply. PS, notice the strongest and most vocal opponents of RRP are the lobbyists for the strong contractors associations.

Comment from peter matelyan, (6/9/2015, 9:56 AM)

I wonder how much lead dust does does one need to be expose to and for how long beach permanent damage occurs? The two experts who have suggested landlords and contractors are the main provider for spreading lead thru deception and poor work site controls is false at best and paranoid at worst. As a working contractor some of the rules we are made to follow pervents consumers to hire us due to the additional cost of compliance. They then hire handyman or laborers to do projects without compliance. Raise and lowering windows, opening and closing doors are the two most obvious ways of spreading lead dust due to friction, not contractors or landlords. Some rules need to be improve to lower cost and thereby improving safety for those who might be harmed

Comment from Rocky Everly, (6/9/2015, 10:02 AM)

There are two problems with this bill. First, people are acting like people over the age of 6 are immune to lead poisoning. They are not. Lead poisoning in adults can cause nausea, head-aches, fatigue, kidney failure and loss of sexual function. Lead poisoning and its therapy - CHELATION - are not something any person, or any family want to go through. Second, the RRP rule already HAS an EMERGENCY RENOVATION clause; and it already HAS two approved test kits that meet the requirements. Have the sponsors of the bill ever bothered to read the existing rule or training materials?

Comment from Fred Wittenberg, (6/9/2015, 9:06 PM)

Relaxation of any lead rules is absurd. I direct those who commented above to a spread in the Chicago Tribune of June 7th, stating that lead poisoning leads to violent crimes. I'm sure that we all remember that little ditty about the "Mad Hatter". If we don't initiate the provisions to eliminate or minimize the dangers starting with the very young, we're adding future chaos to the world. Right now, in combination with the availability of guns, Chicago has already had 1,000 shootings this year, and it's only the beginning of June. Do I need to say anymore?

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