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Industry Seeks EPA Data on Lead Rule

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

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Federal regulators must show a “hazard and causal link” between renovation work and lead-based paint in public and commercial buildings before expanding any rules involving that work, the construction industry insists.

Builders, property owners and managers, and materials suppliers are among those calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make its case that those activities carry such risks before imposing new rules to manage them.

renovation on public buildings
AGC

Industry groups say the EPA has yet to identify whether "dangerous levels of lead" even exist in public and commercial buildings.

Twenty-two trade organizations, collectively called the “Commercial Properties Coalition,” have submitted 61 pages of comments on the EPA's plan to regulate renovation, repair and painting activities in public and commercial buildings to address possible lead-based paint hazards, the Associated General Contractors of America and its partners announced.

The EPA announced May 13 in the Federal Register that it would hold a public meeting June 26 to discuss issues and collect more data about expanding the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule.

The coalition submitted its letter April 1. Members plan to participate in the upcoming public hearing.

Efforts to Expand

The agency is looking to expand the RRP rule that took effect in April 2010. The rule requires lead-safe work practices and certification 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.

After that rule became final, EPA began efforts to expand it to commercial and public buildings. That effort was delayed in September 2012 as a result of a settlement agreement with environmental and health organizations.

Timeline for Expansion

The EPA now has until July 1, 2015, to decide whether to propose new nationwide certification, training and lead-safe work practice requirements for contractors who work in public and commercial buildings.

Hotels
Gentletouch1954 / Wikimedia Commons

EPA should not view commercial buildings as a “generic, monolithic grouping,” according to the coalition. The group says the “commercial buildings sector is not dominated by structures of a single type, use, activity, or occupancy.”

If EPA issues a proposed rule, the agency has until Dec. 31, 2016, to publish a final rule, per the settlement agreement.

Industry Comments

The coalition’s letter cites a lack of lead-paint data for public and commercial buildings and maintains that EPA has not met its burden of showing that renovation and remodeling activities there create a lead-paint based “hazard” under Section 402 (c)(3) of the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Noting the fundamentally different uses, occupancies and renovation practices in commercial buildings versus homes, the coalition said EPA should not rely on information gathered for “target housing” to justify a public and commercial program.

Instead, the agency could use the “massive stock of federal buildings” to collect the scientific, technical and work practices it is seeking, according to the letter.

EPA also must consider whether current regulations and practices already address potential lead-based paint hazards in public and commercial buildings, the group said. 

RRP renovate right
EPA

The residential RRP rule requires lead-safe practices and certifications for projects that disturb more than six feet of lead-based paint in most pre-1978 homes, child-care facilities and schools.

The Associated General Contractors of America created a table for the coalition’s comments that shows the existing federal programs (OSHA Lead in Construction Standard at 29 CFR Part 1926.62 and HUD Lead Safe Housing Rule at 24 CFR Part 35) that are designed to prevent exposure to lead hazards and the release of toxic substances during construction activities.

EPA officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the industry groups' concerns.

Coalition Signatories

In addition to the AGC, the coalition includes the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA); Associated Builders and Contractors; National Association of Home Builders (NAHB); U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International; National Association of Realtors; National Multi Housing Council (NMHC); and others.

Many of the same industry trade groups raised similar concerns in letters submitted to the EPA in July 2010 and December 2010.

   

Tagged categories: Commercial Buildings; Commercial Construction; Environmental Protection; EPA; Lead; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Maintenance programs; Renovation

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (5/22/2013, 9:05 AM)

There's pretty good evidence that many renovation activities performed on high lead paint cause a lot of lead dust, and that if children live in the house, the children frequently ingest significant amounts of the disturbed lead, resulting in high blood lead levels. High blood lead levels result in brain damage, et cetera.


Comment from Catherine Brooks, (5/23/2013, 2:16 PM)

Having each public or commercial building professionally tested by a Certified Lead Inspector or Dust Sampling Technician using a licensed lab can determine whether public building has dangerous lead levels. HUD has been requiring this process for work done in their funded buildings for decades. What difference does it make if those building and the original data on which the original RRP law is based are from low-income housing, daycare facilities, etc which are "targeted areas" or not? The issue is whether the amount of lead found in a building is dangerous and a hazard. Pre-project testing should be the deciding factor, not commercial vs residential or public vs private. The “Commercial Properties Coalition” is worried that they will have to pay to assure the safety of their occupants. Where else could the accountability reside besides with them? Oh, lower profits from higher expenses to protect the public? Yep.


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