Senate Introduces Legislation to Reform EPA Lead Rule

March 7th, 2013 | Category: Industry News

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) applauded introduction of legislation last night in the U.S. Senate that would reform the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) Rule. This bill would reduce the burden the rule has placed on dealers in the home retrofit market, and also protect pregnant women and small children from lead hazards, according to the association.

The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2013 (S. 484) was introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and six cosponsors. NLBMDA has sought re-introduction of this reform bill in the Senate following the introduction of a similar Senate bill in 2012 that expired with the last session of Congress.

“Over the last several years of the housing industry downturn, the remodeling and retrofit market has been a key source of business for LBM dealers, either through their installed sales operations, serving remodelers, or both,” says NLBMDA Chairman Chuck Bankston, president of Bankston Lumber in Barnesville, Ga. “While we support the goal of protecting pregnant women and small children from lead hazards, EPA’s effort to expand the lead rule beyond its original intent, its aggressive pursuit of paperwork violations and its failure to approve a lead test kit meeting its own rule has been an extreme burden on a residential market that is just starting to recover from the recession. We commend Sen. Inhofe for his continuing leadership on this issue.”

Among its key provisions, S. 484 would restore the “opt-out” clause, suspend the rule for owner-occupied housing built between 1960 and 1978 when a small child or pregnant woman does not live in the home (if EPA cannot approve a test kit meeting its own standard for false positives), it would prohibit expansion of the rule to commercial buildings until EPA conducts a study demonstrating the need for such action and provide a de minimis exemption for first-time paperwork violations.

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  1. It’s about time that common sense started to prevail.

  2. One thing that is almost completely unknown by most contractors is the incidence of ‘False Positives’ when using the most popular lead test, Lead Check. The test report that the EPA used to validate the Lead Check test for use on Sheetrock shows that while the test does a great job at having very low false negative reports (i.e. it doesn’t signal ‘no lead’ when lead is present), it has a terrible false positive result above 70% for trained users and 98% of the time for untrained users! This means that more than 70% of the time when the test should show that there is either no lead paint or it is less than the required threshold, it reports a positive test for lead. Even where there is no lead at all in the tested surface, it reported a positive test for lead more than 10% of the time.

    While the false negative results are important to the EPA, the false positive results are not. But they are to both contractors and homeowners alike since a false positive test triggers additional time and costs to comply with the EPA RRP regulations when more than 70% of the time they are are completely unnecessary.

    Here is the link to the EPA validation tests, and based upon the false positive results, this test should never have been approved: http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/3M-leadcheck-report.pdf There is a good chart showing false positive and negative results, but there is also a good verbal summary on the last paragraph of page 36 and continuing on 37. Since the test does not even meet the false positive requirements the EPA had set up, why is this test approved?

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