Posted by: Tamela Adamson-McMullen
As the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) approaches the one-year mark, industry reviews are mixed.
Sure, everyone wants to make housing safer for children and their families. But there have been a lot of changes in the rule, according to some sources, that have resulted in a lot of confusion and cost for contractors.
Effective April 22 of last year, the rule impacts contractors who perform work in homes, child-care facilities or schools built before 1978. Those contractors must now be certified through an intensive eight-hour training course at training facilities approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The training is designed to ensure that contractors follow strict work practices to control lead-paint dust during renovation. Non-complying contractors face stiff fines and penalties which, by some estimates, could exceed $37,500 per day.
Individual paint companies have done their part to help contractors get up-to-speed with the ruling.
California Paints last year solicited contractors through its dealer network and offered training sessions at drastically reduced costs. Between 600 and 700 contractors attended the sessions from February through the middle of April, presented in conjunction with the Institute for Environmental Education Inc.
Benjamin Moore Co., meanwhile, has offered RRP webinars, sent out e-mail blasts, sponsored training events and passed out fact sheets for retailers and field reps to give to contractors.
Additionally, Steve Sides with the American Coatings Association (ACA) noted that from 2003 to 2006 the paint association in a voluntary agreement with state attorneys general underwrote comprehensive tuition-free training. The training was rolled out nationwide for contractors and anyone interested in obtaining training in lead-safe work practices, according to a protocol approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the EPA. Some 16,000 persons took advantage of the training, which served as an effective prototype for the new rule.
Helping contractors stay up-to-speed on RRP is important because the ruling has been an evolution in progress. Of the contractors ACA trained, “because of two small changes in the training program, all 16,000 of those folks were deemed ineligible for grandfathering and had to take a refresher course on those two components,” Sides explained.
Among the changes to the rule has been the removal of the “opt-out provision.” The provision allowed contractors, upon the homeowner’s approval, to bypass extra prep, clean-up and recordkeeping requirements in homes where pregnant women and children under 6 years of age were not present.
Another change has involved the role of individual states. Currently, 11 states have requested and been authorized to run and enforce their own RRP programs, with more states likely to join. According to one source, the problem with state programs is that they aren’t necessarily consistent with one another or with the EPA. Additionally, it’s possible that a contractor working in two or more states would have to be certified in multiple-state programs.
Even the enforcement date of the rule changed and was extended last year to Oct. 1. The changes seem never ending; still, Sides believes there is good news.
“I think the vast majority of lead-remediation jobs have been done in a reasonably careful manner, even before we had all this training,” Sides said. The proof, he added, can be found in reports related to blood-lead levels. “Statistics bear this out: Blood-lead levels are reducing.”