Remodeling contractors want the Environmental Protection Agency to call a time out on its Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP).

Representatives of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Window and Door Dealers Assn. (WDDA) each say the rule, though good intentioned, is too much and way too soon.

According to the WDDA, the regulation requires use of lead-safe practices for all renovation, repair and painting projects that may disturb lead-based paint in homes, child-care facilities and schools built before 1978. As of April 22, renovators must be certified in the safe removal of lead paint, including certifying dust sampling technicians to ensure that dust particles created during remodeling projects do not create a hazard, especially for younger children. Violators can be fined up to $37,500 per day.

All three groups asked the Office of Management and Budget to delay enforcement of the rule because very few remodeling professionals are aware of the rule, as evidenced by their view that far less than 10% of the estimated 220,000 contractors have been certified. (The EPA claims that an estimated 50,000 estimators were trained by March 15.)

“This stealth rule will take much of the industry by surprise,” said David Walker, vice president of the WCCA. “EPA has not done due diligence to inform and educate renovators about it. Of those who do know about it, only a few are certified.”

Donna Shirey, chair of NAHB Remodelers, said, “Our local building associations are offering certification classes to their members, but EPA hasn’t approved enough trainers to enable our members and other contractors to be certified on time and that’s going to put remodelers and their customers in quite a bind.”

A press release issued by NARI noted, “The EPA has not commenced its planned public awareness campaign; the general public and the majority of contactors are not even aware of the rule.”

I only became of this rule last week, when a one-man cabinet shop in Kansas sent an email asking if he should be concerned about his livelihood. By coincidence, we received press releases from WDDA and NAHB soon after. Are you aware of this new EPA rule? If you are, do you feel that EPA should begin enforcing the rule on April 22 giving you a competitive advantage for being prepared? If you are not aware, why is that? What more should the EPA be doing to get you in the loop.

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