[Washington, DC] - The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today regarding EPA's proposed rule to expand its current Lead; Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule. EPA is considering whether to establish additional requirements to ensure that renovation work areas are adequately cleaned after renovation work is finished and before the areas are re-occupied. These additional requirements could include expensive multiple dust wipe tests through EPA-approved labs after renovations are completed and depending on the type of renovation work, ensuring that the renovation work areas meet stringent clearance standards before re-occupancy.

"While we are still greatly troubled by EPA's decision to remove the opt-out provision from the original RRP rule without adequate justification, we are equally troubled by EPA's intent to mandate even more onerous clearance testing requirements, once again we believe without adequate justification and without a proper understanding of potential unintended negative impacts," said Jeff Inks, WDMA Vice President of Codes and Regulatory Affairs. "To give a specific example, our members report that the actual cost of window replacement in homes covered by the rule range from $90-$170 per window opening, far greater than the average $35 per job originally and erroneously estimated by EPA. If the proposed additional dust wipe and clearance testing requirements are implemented by EPA, those costs will increase greatly. We're concerned that will further discourage home owners from making energy efficient renovations to their homes which is unfortunate because of the limited benefit we believe the additional testing will provide. We are also concerned about reports that contractors are refusing jobs on pre-1978 homes that must comply with rule because of the significant liability associated with it."

WDMA outlined several other concerns in its comments to EPA, including:
* EPA lacks the authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to impose dust wipe testing or clearance requirements on renovators;
* EPA's proposal is inconsistent with TSCA because it eliminates the distinction between lead abatement activities and renovation work;
* The cost of the rule would far outweigh any possible benefits;
* EPA's has failed to provide any data or circumstances to justify the proposed expansion of the lead rules.

Making matters worse is that many consumers having renovation work done will be forced to incur the additional costs for the work and reporting requirements under the rule for no reason because of the likelihood of "false positives" from pre-renovation testing triggering those requirements needlessly. Based on EPA's economic analysis of the rule, the "false positive" rate with respect to the rule's requirements is as high as 64% on average and there's no resolution to that problem in sight.

While EPA has asserted their expectation that test kits meeting their more stringent accuracy requirements of no greater than five percent "false negatives" and ten percent "false positives," would be available by September of this year in compliance with the rule's test kit requirements, that is highly unlikely. On July 27, EPA released the preliminary results of its testing of four available test kits and reported "no new kits meet both the false negative and false positive criteria."

Despite the absence of compliant test kits and other concerns raised by WDMA and other interests, EPA appears to be moving full speed ahead with further regulation. WDMA fully supports the intent of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 (the Act) and shares EPA's concern for protecting children and women who are pregnant from lead hazards, however regulations put in place must be well substantiated, cost effective and practical. WDMA will continue to work cooperatively with other interests in efforts to bring about more reasonable regulations.

EPA is expected to issue a final rule next year.

Founded in 1927, the Window & Door Manufacturers Association is the premier trade association representing the leading manufacturers of residential and commercial window, door and skylight products for the domestic and export markets. WDMA members are focused on Total Product Performance™ products that are designed and built to performance-based standards. The association is focused on key member needs in the areas of advocacy, product performance, education and information and facilitating business interactions and relationships in the fenestration eco-system.

Source: Window and Door Manufacturers Assn.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.