EPA Tweaks to RRP Rule Offer Time to Catch Up

Only those located inside the beltway that circles Washington, D.C., and who are familiar with the ways of the capital can make sense of the recent changes to the Renovation, Repair and Painting rule from the EPA. But to home improvement professionals, the continual stream of changes and proposed new rules is making compliance to the RRP rule almost a full-time job, or so it seems.

This ‘job’ has become all the more urgent in the wake of a $745,000 fine levied against a large Midwestern home improvement contractor that could not provide the necessary documentation proving that they had been giving its customers a copy of the EPA pamphlet Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools. This requirement went into effect in December 2008 and remains in effect in perpetuity. But for the next several weeks at least, EPA has backed off of active enforcement of the rule, giving home improvement companies time to catch up.

What follows is an update of important compliance deadlines and obligations associated with the RRP rule that have been tweaked in recent weeks.

The Enforcement Delay. The June 18, 2010 announcement from the EPA regarding the RRP rule did not change any obligations that home improvement companies have to comply with the new rule, which took effect on April 22. Firms must get certified by the EPA and they still must follow “work practice standards and the associated recordkeeping requirements.” The June 18 action allows more time to apply for and obtain certification as a lead-based paint renovation firm before active enforcement begins. Active enforcement of violations of the requirement to get firms certified with the EPA begins on Oct. 1, 2010. Individual renovators must be registered in a course to receive training by Sept. 30, 2010, and must complete certificatoin by Dec. 31. There is no reason to delay or slack off in implementation of requirements during this period.

Removal of the “Opt-Out.” The RRP rule originally included the option for homeowners to sign an “opt-out” whereby they could legally waive the obligation requiring renovators and home improvement professionals to follow the lead-safe removal work practices as long as no children under the age of 6 in the home. The opt-out officially expired on July 6, 2010.

Special Circumstances in Eight States. Eight states — Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina, Mississippi, Kansas, Rhode Island, Utah, and Oregon — administer and enforce their own RRP programs. Renovators working in these states must comply with all applicable state laws, notwithstanding this guidance.

Comment Period Reopened on Dust-Wipe Testing Requirements. On July 2, 2010, the EPA announced it would reopen its comment period on a proposed addition to the RRP rule whereby dust-wipe testing would be required at the end of many home improvement jobs. As proposed, this rule stands to greatly expand a remodeler’s overall liability for lead contamination in a home. Comments submitted by the National Association of Home Builders on behalf of NAHB Remodelers took issue with the EPA’s legal right to add the dust-wipe testing provision: “The proposal is another 180-degree shift from the agency’s 2008 Final Renovation, Repair and Painting rule, [yet] EPA has not provided any additional data or evidence to justify dust-wipe testing or clearance, and its Dust Study reaffirms the reliability of the cleaning verification work practice as sufficient for reducing lead dust levels below the current lead hazard standard.” Remodelers and home improvement companies are encouraged to register their comments about the rule until Aug. 6, 2010 at www.epa.gov/lead. The EPA says it expects to announce its decision on the proposed dust-wipe test by July 2011.

In the days and weeks ahead, there will doubtless be more news and analysis relating to how best to comply with and account for the responsibilities required by the RRP Rule. We encourage you to visit the news section at www.QualifiedRemodeler.com and to subscribe to our newsfeed on Twitter, www.twitter.com/qualifiedremod. It makes sense to allocate plenty of time implementing these changes now while active enforcement is still a few weeks away.

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