If the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was around in Benjamin Franklin’s time, he probably would have noted there are three things in life that are certain: death, taxes and revisions to the EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule. Since the rule took effect in April 2010, some major revisions have been proposed. Two of these—the Opt-out Provision and Clearance Testing—now have been finalized.
Originally, the Opt-out Provision enabled homeowners to sign a statement that exempted their renovation from RRP work-practice requirements if there were no children or pregnant women in the home or if a “child-occupied facility” did not exist on the property. The Opt-out Provision was revoked in July 2010.
Clearance Testing was rejected on July 15. The proposed requirements would have included collection of dust-wipe samples from specific areas of the job site, submission of the samples to EPA-certified laboratories for dust-wipe testing and presentation of a full written report to the building owners within three days. As EPA deliberated Clearance Testing, more than 300 public comments were submitted to the organization. There may have been a collective sigh of relief across the industry when EPA rejected Clearance Testing.
What Rejection Means
The EPA’s announcement to remain with the status quo means the white-glove test remains in effect. Renovators can continue to test their worksite as they have in the past: Wipe the surfaces with disposable cleaning cloths and compare them to an EPA-provided cleaning verification card.
In addition, EPA clearly states in its ruling the distinction between abatement and renovation and notes it “has interpreted practicality in implementation to be an element of the statutory directive to take into account effectiveness and reliability. ... The work practices required by the RRP rule should be simple to understand and easy to use.”
There are several RRP refinements in the July 15 notice of which renovators should be aware. These refinements are further explained in the Advance Publication, EPA.gov/lead/pubs/lrrpprepub.pdf. (At press time, the official version had not yet been published in the Federal Register. Once it is, the Advance Publication link will be directed to the final rule. The docket number to access the final rule is EPA-HQ-OPPT-2005-0049.)
- Clearance Can Be Used Instead of Cleaning Verification If a renovation firm is required to obtain clearance, it is not required to also perform cleaning verification. (Advance Publication, page 21)
- Paint Chip Sample Collection Instead of using test kits to determine whether lead-based paint is present, renovators can submit paint chips to a National Lead Laboratory Accreditation Program laboratory. For labs, see EPA.gov/lead/pubs/nllapcov.htm. (Advance Publication, page 23)
- Training Provider Accreditation Provisions
Documentation Training providers now must submit documentation regarding the qualifications of training managers and principal instructors with their application for accreditation. (Advance Publication, page 25)
Course Materials A training provider using state- or tribe-approved courses must submit those course materials to EPA for review. (Advance Publication, page 26)
Principal Instructor The principal instructor must be present during all training classes to provide “oversight.” (Advance Publication, page 27)
Application Amendments Changes in training instructor information must be submitted to EPA within a specified amount of time. (Advance Publication, page 28)
Hands-on Training Hands-on training now is required for test-kit usage, renovation methods, containment and cleanup techniques, as well as cleaning verification. (Advance Publication, page 31)
- E-Learning Online training is permitted for the classroom portion of the renovator course but cannot be used for hands-on training, the final course test or the proficiency test. (Advance Publication, page 34)
- Trainee Photographs Photographs of trainees attaining certification must be at least 1 square inch in size. (Advance Publication, page 41)
- Minimum State Fines For the 12 states currently implementing their own RRP Rule, there is now a minimum penalty of $5,000 per violation per day. (Advance Publication, page 42)
- Vertical Containment Vertical containment now is required for exterior renovation projects that are within 10 feet of the property line. (Advance Publication, page 48)
- Painted Surface Painted surface is clarified: a component surface covered entirely or in part with paint or other surface coatings. (Advance Publication, page 57)
- HEPA Vacuums EPA is lifting a requirement that HEPA vacuums be rated at MERV 17 or higher, but renovators must comply with manufacturer guidelines for peak performance of the equipment, such as frequent filter changes. (Advance Publication, page 60)
- On-the-job Training Certified renovators can train workers in RRP only in work areas in which they will be performing work. (Advance Publication, page 61)
- Grandfathering Anyone who successfully completes an accredited abatement course or HUD or EPA or joint HUD/EPA renovation courses can take a refresher training course instead of the initial renovation training to become a certified renovator. (Advance Publication, page 62)
“Renovate Right” Brochure
It is important to note EPA has created a revised insert for the existing “Renovate Right” brochure. Make sure you include this revision in any future distribution of the brochure.
The insert seems to squarely put the responsibility for post-renovation clearance testing on the homeowner. On page 10, in the section titled “For Property Owners: After the Work is Done,” a paragraph explains that EPA requires cleaning verification and gives an explanation of the cleaning protocol required by contractors. It states “EPA research has shown that following the use of lead-safe work practices with the cleaning verification protocol will effectively reduce lead dust hazards.”
It continues to reiterate that using a contractor with lead-safe certification will effectively reduce lead levels; however, “if you want testing, EPA recommends testing be conducted by a lead professional.” It provides information about how a homeowner can find lead professionals in his or her area to conduct an evaluation at the homeowner’s expense. The information also encourages homeowners to do the testing themselves by contacting EPA-recognized laboratories for DIY kits.
Although there is no escaping death, taxes and RRP revisions, perhaps in the coming months EPA will take notice of another Benjamin Franklin piece of wisdom: Great haste makes great waste.