EPA ignores industry concerns on lead paint rules; removes opt-out provision

Glass Magazine
April 23, 2010
COMMERCIAL, RETAIL, FABRICATION

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rules went into effect yesterday without the all-important “opt-out” provision demanded by the glass industry. Preservation of the opt-out provision in the final LRRP rule was a priority of the National Glass Association, McLean, Va.  

“We are very disappointed in this decision, for residential and commercial glaziers and our customers,” said Rod Van Buskirk, president/owner, Bacon & Van Buskirk, Champaign, Ill., and a past chairman of NGA’s Architectural Glazing Committee. “We all place high priority on the safety of our employees and our customers, but in cases where health risks are negligible, commonsense suggests homeowners and multi-unit residential building owners should have the option to not have their contractors adhere to lead-safe work practices where small children and pregnant women are not going to be present. Adding unnecessary and substantial costs to a job is just asking for people to make bad decisions.

“Losing the ‘opt-out’ clause is tough enough," Van Buskirk said. "Overall, this edict by the EPA will affect residential, multi-unit residential glazing and institutional remodeling in America a great deal more than most glass dealers currently realize. Some dealers will include the cost and time to use lead-safe work practices and some dealers won’t.  Even reglazing glass or rescreening a screen in an old wood window could be interpreted as work requiring these stringent practices. Currently, specifications for school remodeling do not include anything related to lead. If a glazing company or commercial window replacement firm has received the prime contract to do a school window replacement this summer, odds are they didn’t include the cost and time for lead-safe work practices in their quotation. They could face huge fines.”

It will take awhile for dealers to factor in costs and time into their work,” Van Buskirk said. “I hope none of us gets bit. The federal government is obviously hungry for money from fines and the EPA is oblivious to what they’re doing to citizens and to the industry in general under the pretense of safety. There is increased environmental damage as a result of this, and safety for citizens is not going to improve in any substantial way. But to ignore the EPA’s rule will simply invite fines upon your business.  You must comply.”

EPA’s LRRP regulation requires use of lead-safe practices for all renovation, repair and painting projects that may disturb lead-based paint in homes, childcare facilities and schools built before 1978. Contractors doing the work must be certified by EPA. Violators can be fined up to $37,500 per day.

“Not only did the EPA rush this rule into effect without adequate notice, but they compounded the problem by deleting the opt-out provision,” said David Walker, vice president, NGA. “EPA’s due diligence on this action was shoddy at best, and you can be sure there will be severe short- and long-term implementation problems as a result.”

For more information from the EPA, read the Final Rule and the related news release, as well as this Glass Magazine article