EPA Makes Lead Monitoring a Top Priority

December 29th, 2009 by DWM Magazine

Following the news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requiring contractors (including those who perform window replacements) to be trained as a certified renovator if they disturb painted surfaces in pre-1978 homes, the EPA made another announcement regarding lead last week proving that the agency has made lead monitoring a top priority. The agency is proposing to expand the lead air quality monitoring network to ensure that the most vulnerable Americans are protected from exposure to lead, according to a press release.

EPA is proposing to require air quality monitoring around sources that emit a half ton or more of lead a year, lowering the current threshold from one ton a year to include more sources. The proposal also modifies the current requirement for monitoring in larger urban areas. These changes would allow monitoring at the largest sources of lead emissions and would more accurately track long-term trends and assess typical lead levels in communities throughout the country, according to the press release.

Lead emitted into the air can be inhaled or can be ingested after it settles; ingestion is the main route of human exposure. Children are the most susceptible, and there is no known safe level of lead in the body, according to the EPA.

Why Window Contractors Need to Be Prepared

Concerns about lead exposure, particularly in children, also led the EPA to issue the December 2008 Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right, EPA’s Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRP), which goes into effect in April 2010 (CLICK HERE to view the compliance guide). This rule has major implications for window contractors–though many in the industry are unaware these changes are even coming.

“I was completely unaware of the lead abatement issue until a week ago,” says David Steele, president of the Window Gallery. “I heard a discussion about it and it caught me totally off guard.”

Dealers across the country need to be prepared or they will face major fines for non-compliance–$32,500 per violation, per day.

However, when this ruling initially came out, it wasn’t nearly as alarming—but after receiving some pressure from industry groups, the EPA has decided to propose a rule that would remove the opt-out provision that currently exempts a renovation firm from the training and work practice requirements of the rule where the firm obtains a certification from the owner of a residence he or she occupies that no child under age six nor pregnant women resides in the home and the home is not a child-occupied facility.

The EPA expects to finalize the rule by April 2010. Comments were due on November 27, and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) was one of several groups that weighed in on behalf of its membership.

“WDMA is opposed to this proposal for a variety of reasons. For one, removing the opt-out provision is a complete reversal of EPA’s determination to include it in the final rule and their reason for doing so,” says Jeff Inks, vice president, codes and regulatory affairs for the WDMA.

By some WDMA members’ estimates, the added cost of complying with the rule on a window replacement project is approximately $60 per window opening.

“By the EPA’s own estimate, the proposed elimination of the opt-out rule is expected to cost approximately $500 million in the first year alone, which is burdensome on an industry and consumers that are already suffering from the effects of a severe economic recession,” reads the WDMA’s comments to the EPA.

Rules at a Glance

But regardless of whether or not the opt-out provision is put into place, beginning April 22, 2010, the following rules apply, according to the RRP:

• Firms must be certified;

• Renovators must be trained;

• Lead-safe work practices must be followed. Examples of these practices include:

o Work area containment to prevent dust and debris from leaving the work area; and

o Thorough cleanup followed by a certification procedure to minimize exposure to lead-based paint hazards.

Responsibilities of a Certified Firm

Firms performing renovations must ensure that:

1. All individuals performing activities that disturb painted surfaces on behalf of the firm are either certified renovators or have been trained by a certified renovator;

2. A certified renovator is assigned to each renovation and performs all of the certified renovator responsibilities;

3. All renovations performed by the firm are performed in accordance with the work practice standards of the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program;

4. Pre-renovation education requirements of the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program are performed; and

5. The program’s recordkeeping requirements are met.

Responsibilities of a Certified Renovator

To become a certified renovator an individual must successfully complete an eight-hour initial renovator training course offered by an accredited training provider (training providers are accredited by EPA, or by an authorized state or tribal program). The course completion certificate serves as proof of certification.

According to the RRP, certified renovators are responsible for ensuring overall compliance with the RRP’s requirements for lead-safe work practices at renovations they are assigned. A certified renovator must do the following:

1. Use a test kit acceptable to EPA, when requested by the party contracting for renovation services, to determine whether components to be affected by the renovation contain lead-based paint (EPA will announce which test kits are acceptable prior to April 2010 at www.epa.gov/ lead);

2. Provide on-the-job training to workers on the work practices they will be using in performing their assigned tasks;

3. Be physically present at the work site when warning signs are posted, while the work-area containment is being established, and while the work-area cleaning is performed;

4. Regularly direct work being performed by other individuals to ensure that the work practices are being followed, including maintaining the integrity of the containment barriers and ensuring that dust or debris does not spread beyond the work area;

5. Be available, either on-site or by telephone, at all times while the renovations are being conducted;

6. Perform project cleaning verification;

7. Have with them at the work site copies of their initial course completion certificate and their most recent refresher course completion certificate; and

8. Prepare required records.

In addition, all documents must be retained for three years following the completion of a renovation. Records that must be retained include:

. • Reports certifying that lead-based paint is not present;

. • Records relating to the distribution of the lead pamphlet; and

. • Any signed and dated statements received from owner-occupants documenting that the requirements do not apply (i.e., there are neither any children under age six nor pregnant women residing at the home, and it is not a child-occupied facility); and

. • Documentation of compliance with the requirements of the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program.

For more information on the upcoming rules regarding lead paint, including what manufacturers and dealers are doing to prepare for the changes, see the January-February issue of DWM magazine.



5 comments
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  1. I am a Democrat to the core, but this new lead paint deal is ridiculous! How will we make the planet greener when a lot of companies that sell energy saving products and services choose to leave the industry because of these over-the-top new requirements?

  2. It’s probably a good idea at this early stage NOT to mention what I’ve just learned from Realtor.TV. That is that the individual that makes the complaint of a violation to EPA regarding some party being in non-compliance of the RRP rule, gets to keep the $32,500 !!! WOW, if that won’t put a special spin on enforcement of the Fedeal rule, that was never there before when applying state lead enforcement of Lead Safe Work Practices. Here in Maryland, enforcement is a complaint driven process for pre-1950 rental dwelling properties. No complaint – no problem. Dept. of the Environment staff employees have limited manpower to cover the entire state, and Lead poisoned children investigations occupy much of their time.
    This Federal rule could pit neighbor against neighbor, or contractor against contractor, etc. Looks like a new ballgame! In fact it may create a whole new high-paying job classification … Lead paint snitch!

  3. Hope you find this helpful: ZipWall has a lot of useful EPA information collected in one section, zipwall.com/epa.php

  4. I just went through the certification. It is a joke? right? I keep expecting someone to pinch me! I must be asleep. I thought this was the land of the free? All the plastic, tape and gloves are just going to fill our dumps-they are biodegradable supplies. And 20 ft of plastic outside the doorways of the home when you are working inside the home is overkill! Wrapping the trees? You can’t drink working inside the job you are working, you have to change your clothing everytime you drink water? It is a waste of the homeowners money! What right does the government have to tell a worker they have to protect themselves. They can smoke cigarettes, pot and drink booze but they can not have a closed container of water on the jobsite where they are working? In colorado they can drive a motorcycle without a helmet! Why can’t we just enforce the respirator, the sealing off of the job and have the worker wear the same clothing inside the job and take it off inside before they leave. contractors have not taken enough precautions, that is true, so lets educate all the workers about the dangers of taking the lead home to their families, make them wear protective clothing and respirators and leave the protective clothing at the job site. Lets encourage them to go straight to the showers when they get home! That is probably the best thing they can do. Perhaps the best thing to do is recommend how to protect themselves and let them decide how they want to do it. You can’t force them to do it the EPA way and threaten them. Education is the only way to go. Educate the homeowners, talk about it in schools, test children in school for lead poison and educate the workers/companies.

  5. Homeowner get the fine ??? I know that is not true. How else is the EPA going to pay for enforcement of this reg plus all their other endeavours. I think the Sierra Club might get a slice of the penalty fine for their role in eliminating the opt out rule.

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