Contractors working to help clean up and rebuild after Hurricane Sandy and other disasters may catch a break from some federal lead-paint regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced.
EPA says its Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule—designed to minimize exposure to lead-based paint hazards—has emergency provisions for those engaged in post-disaster renovation work.
Companies engaged in cleanup and rebuilding efforts after natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy, are exempt from certain requirements under the rule, according to the EPA.
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Sandy hit the Eastern seaboard near Atlantic City, NJ, on Oct. 29. The town of Seaside Heights, NJ, was among those suffering the greatest flooding and destruction.
EPA says those provisions ensure that propery owners and occupants are able to respond quickly to preserve their homes and property in the wake of disasters.
Requirements and Exemptions
The RRP rule requires the use of lead-safe work practices to ensure that common renovation activities such as sanding, cutting and demolition, which can create hazardous lead dust, are conducted properly by trained and certified contractors or individuals. EPA finalized the RRP rule in 2008, and it took effect on April 22, 2010.
The rule applies to homes and child-occupied facilities (including day care centers and schools) built before 1978.
However, under the rule's emergency provision, contractors performing activities that are immediately necessary to protect personal property and public health need not be RRP trained or certified. Contractors are also exempt from RRP rule requirements involving information distribution, posting warning signs at the renovation site, containment of dust, and waste handling.
Contractors are not exempt from the RRP rule's requirements related to cleaning, cleaning verification and recordkeeping, however, according to EPA.
The agency also warns that the exemptions apply only to the extent necessary to respond to the emergency.
"Once the portion of the renovation that addresses the source of the emergency is completed, the remaining activities are subject to all requirements of the RRP rule," EPA says.
More information is available at the RRP frequent questions section located here.
Emergency Renovations Defined
Emergency renovations are defined as "renovation activities that were not planned but result from a sudden, unexpected event that, if not immediately attended to, present a safety or public health hazard, or threaten equipment and/or property with significant damage," according to the federal agency.
Sandy hit the Eastern seaboard Oct. 29 near Atlantic City, NJ. The death toll from the superstorm topped 157, including at least 88 people in the United States. Damage estimates have topped $50 billion.
In response to Sandy, EPA has been supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency and working closely with federal agencies and the states of New Jersey and New York to assess damage and respond to environmental concerns, the agency said on its website.