For those of you who are not already aware, the EPA’s 2008 lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule is a set of required standards for all building and home contractors who work in buildings that have lead-based paint. The rule requires the use of lead-safe work practices to minimize the possible conditions that can generate a lead hazard during normal RRP activities. Part of the requirement is for contractors and workers to take appropriate classes in lead-safe work practices.
Originally, the law was anticipated to include a requirement for final clearance dust wipe sampling to ensure there is not a lead dust hazard in the area of renovations. However, the EPA backed off of the requirement in 2011, instead favoring a “qualitative” method of having the contractor compare a damp cloth wipe of the renovation area to an “EPA Standard” to determine if they needed to do additional cleaning (the so called “dirty-diaper test”). You can read the EPA’s reasoning for this change in a document titled “Improving Our Regulations: Final Plan for Periodic Retrospective Reviews of Existing Regulations.” The entire EPA document is worth reading, as it addressed other regulatory topics, including drinking water standards, vehicle emissions, TSCA, NPDES, and others. However, the RRP Paragraph is below:
“After carefully weighing the issues and considering the comments from over 300 stakeholders, EPA has determined that there are currently no data or information that call into question the reliability, safety, and efficacy of the lead safe work practices established in the 2008 RRP rule.
Therefore, EPA did not finalize additional “clearance” requirements that contractors obtain lead-dust testing and laboratory analysis of the results for renovation jobs. EPA believes that if certified and trained renovation contractors follow EPA’s 2008 RRP rule by using lead-safe work practices and following the cleaning protocol after the job is finished, lead-dust hazards will be effectively reduced.”
The RRP Rule has been in effect since April of 2010. However, it was not until April of this year that the EPA announced the first set of enforcement actions against contractors who violated the RRP rule. For those of you counting, that took the agency two years.
The three announced enforcement actions all included fines of at most $10,000, but it has been long suspected that these actions were in the pipeline. The violations cited by the EPA included both the failure of companies to obtain the RRP certification and then subsequent work practices that could have caused a lead hazard. No incidents of elevated lead blood levels were indicated.
The press release regarding the violations is available here.
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