Digging deeper on RRP: An e-mail exchange between various remodelers (via the staff of CUSTOM HOME's sister publication REMODELING magazine) and Dale Kemery, press officer, Office of Media Relations, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Subject: EPA's Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule.
REMODELING: Remodeling contractors are very concerned about the timing and costs associated with complying with and getting ready for the lead-safe compliance deadline of April 22, 2010. Is there any chance that the deadline for the lead rule to take effect will be pushed back?
EPA: No, the rule will become effective on April 22, 2010, as planned.
REMODELING: These are challenging economic times for most contractors as it is. What suggestions and/or opportunities for assistance does the Agency have for helping contractors comply with the rule?
EPA: EPA has already taken a number of steps to assist contractors. First, the training is only one day long, and renovator certification is automatic upon successful completion of training, at no additional charge. Second, the certification application for firms is extremely short and straightforward. Third, sufficient trainers have already been accredited to provide the required course, so any contractor wanting to locate a course should be able to easily find one.
Fourth, training information (lists of trainers and available courses), certification information (forms and instructions), and instructional webinars are posted on or accessible through our website. Any firm or individual that is interested in becoming certified should be easily able to do that before the regulatory deadline.
REMODELING: At least 200,000 contractors will need the RRP training. As many as 330,000 will need the training if EPA proceeds in removing the rule's "opt-out" provision for homes that are not occupied by children under the age of 6 or pregnant women. As of December 15, there were only 102 EPA-accredited providers, according to the EPA site. What, specifically, is EPA doing to broaden access to training so that all contractors can access it?
EPA: More trainers are being added every week; we expect to have at least 150 in the coming months. (Click here for the most up-to-date list of providers). The majority of our trainers have been approved as "traveling trainers"—they can do multiple, concurrent training sessions across the country, thus significantly expanding their reach. Although we continue to recruit and accredit trainers, we believe there is sufficient capacity now to train all of the affected contractors and more.
REMODELING: When will EPA decide whether to retain or remove the opt-out provision?
EPA: EPA is in the midst of rulemaking to remove the opt-out provision. The comment period on the proposal closed on November 27.
REMODELING: EPA has up to 90 days to process contractors' applications for lead-safe certification. Will this process be accelerated, as the 4/22 deadline approaches and many contractors remain uncertified?
EPA: Yes. While EPA may take up to 90 days to process contractor certification applications, we expect to process the overwhelming majority of applications significantly quicker. However, contractors who apply early will still have the best chance of receiving certification in time for the regulatory deadline.
REMODELING: On the matter of public awareness: Some contractors have already faced skepticism about the lead-paint rule. Some homeowners, in turn, are likely to think that "the rule" is a bogus ruse used by unethical contractors to jack up their prices. What specific kinds of public outreach and education will EPA do to ensure that the public understands the new law and the risks of lead paint?
EPA: EPA is conducting a wide variety of outreach and educational activities aimed at building owners, occupants, and the renovation industry. EPA's outreach and educational efforts involve state and local officials, as well as trade associations, homeowner and tenant advocacy groups, community development organizations, and other key entities.
The Agency will significantly expand its outreach campaign on the RRP rule's requirements in the near future to stimulate knowledge of and demand for lead-safe work practices, but will also encourage awareness of the entire residential lead program. This will involve print and radio ads, partnerships with retailers, greater Web presence and awareness techniques, and more.
REMODELING: On the matter of enforcement: There is huge concern among law-abiding contractors that most of their peers will simply ignore the rules and therefore undercut their prices and make it difficult to compete. How, specifically, will EPA and other governing agencies enforce the lead rule?
EPA: Although EPA will initially be focused on teaching firms how to comply rather than bringing enforcement actions, in order to help firms that follow the requirements of the regulation compete with firms that do not, we will also take steps to follow up on tips and complaints from the public regarding non-compliant firms. EPA recognizes that special efforts will have to be made to identify renovations being performed by uncertified renovation firms using untrained workers because those renovations are likely to present greater risks to building occupants.
REMODELING: What happens if a home improvement contractor does not comply with the lead paint rule and is caught?
EPA: EPA has a range of available enforcement options available, ranging from notices of non-compliance to civil or even criminal enforcement action.
Remedies range from simple warnings to significant fines, revocation of certification, and, in the case of criminal offenses, incarceration. As described above, EPA will initially focus on compliance assistance, but we will also follow up on tips and complaints and address other violations that present the most significant risks to human health or the environment.
REMODELING: Who will be doing enforcement?
EPA: EPA staff will be doing enforcement in states that are not yet authorized. State personnel will be doing enforcement in authorized states.
REMODELING: Will homeowners, contractors, people in general be encouraged and empowered to report noncompliance?
EPA: Yes. The public will be encouraged to use the lead hotline(1-800-424-LEAD) to report instances of non-compliance. These calls will be followed up by EPA staff.
REMODELING: Many remodeling contractors believe that the EPA has grossly understated the cost of compliance. They feel that compliance will add much more than $35 per job (EPA's estimate) when training, equipment, materials, much slower man-hours, paperwork, etc., are included. How did the EPA get that figure of $35 per job, and in what scenarios does the EPA feel that number applies?
EPA: For jobs where lead-based paint is present, EPA has estimated that the costs of containment, cleaning, and cleaning verification will range from $8 to $167 per job, with the exception of exterior jobs where vertical containment would be required. These are incremental costs attributable to the rule.
Information collected by EPA for the purposes of the rulemaking indicates that many contractors already follow some of the work practices required by the rule, such as using disposable plastic sheeting to cover floors and objects in the work area. EPA's cost estimates only include the additional steps that those contractors would have to take as a result of the rule.
In addition, in developing the rule, EPA was particularly concerned with having reasonable record-keeping requirements for renovation firms. As a result, the record-keeping requirements specific to the RRP rule are designed to be completed by a typical renovator in 5 minutes or less. EPA believes that the records pertaining to the RRP rule will make up only a small portion of the records renovation contractors typically keep for each renovation job.