The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it’s reviewing the controversial Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP), which has been deeply unpopular among door and window installers since it went into effect in April 2010.

On June 9, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register that it will examine the RRP rule under Section 610 of the  Regulatory Flexibility Act, which requires the agency to take a look at the economic effects of a regulation within ten years of it being enacted.  Although the agency only has to deal with the 2008 RRP Rule, the notice says it will also consider comments to the 2010 and 2011 amendments. Members of the industry are welcome to comment, and comments must be received within 60 days of the notice at www.regulations.gov.

“This is really good news for us,” says Kevin McKenney, the director of government affairs for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA). “We actually requested that EPA undertake this review. In our comments this past February, we urged them to immediately start that 610 review, mostly because of the lack of a commercially available test kit, but also because all of EPA’s original data is flawed.”

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The RRP rule requires any renovation work — and all door and window replacements — that disturbs more than six square feet of a pre-1978 home’s interior to follow rigorous and costly work practices to protect residents from exposure to lead, which is especially dangerous for young children. The work must be supervised by an EPA-certified renovator and performed by an EPA-certified renovation firm.

As McKenney said, the EPA’s RRP review is expected to focus on its most contentious aspect  — the lack of an accurate lead test kit. According to the EPA, approved test kits for the RRP Rule have a failure rate of between 22.5 percent and 84 percent, and WDMA says false positives have led to millions of dollars in extra costs for homeowners.

“After five years of experience with this rule, it is clear that EPA still has no intention of meeting the requirements of its own regulation,” WDMA president Michael O’Brien told DWM in a  statement in 2015. “EPA’s failure to produce an accurate test kit has created the need for costly alternatives to renovators and others in industry. The regulation continues to burden many homeowners with unnecessary costs due to faulty test kits and the removal of the opt-out clause.”

In July 2010, EPA removed the “Opt-Out Provision” from the rule, which allowed homeowners without children under six or pregnant women residing in the home to allow their contractor to bypass lead-safe work practices. By removing the opt-out provision, EPA more than doubled the number of homes subject to the RRP rule. 

In 2015, both the Senate and the House of Representatives introduced bills supported by the WDMA that would greatly simplify the rule. The bills, which have since stalled, include provisions to restore the opt-out clause; suspend the RRP if EPA cannot approve test kits that meet the regulation’s requirements; and provide a de minimus exemption for first-time paperwork violations.

The EPA’s pending review of the RRP rule could also include a focus on training and certification for renovation and remodeling. The eight-hour training courses and the required recertification every five years have proven to be burdensome and expensive for many installers, even with a change in January that now allows for online training in most states.

 

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