EPA Admits Friday Could Be An Expensive Day

We are on the eve of another EPA announcement of RRP Rule revisions.  This time, it will be addressing Clearance Testing, the subject which is the second court-ordered settlement brought about by a lawsuit filed by a consortium of special interest groups (the Center for Environmental HealthNew York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning , Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, New York Public Interest Research Group, Make the Road New York, and the Sierra Club) The proposal, with the final rule announced on Friday, was originally presented in the May 6, 2010 Federal Register, Part II.  In this document, the EPA states its recognition of the added expense of Dust Wipe Testing versus the current verification process.  It states on page 25044: ""EPA recognized that there are many differences between renovations and abatements … Abatements have only one purpose — to permanently eliminate lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards. On the other hand, renovations are performed for myriad reasons that may have nothing to do with lead-based paint." Okay so far.  We agree.  Two different scenarios. The Federal Register continues: "EPA also recognized that dust wipe testing and clearance are required after abatements can be expensiveThe costs can be attributed to two major factors: the cost of trained personnel to collect the samples and the cost of the laboratory analysis. EPA preliminarily estimated the cost of three dust wipe samples to be $160 to collect and analyze." And, "EPA was also concerned that requiring clearance after every renovation job could, in some instances, result in the renovation firm being held responsible for abating ALL dust -lead hazards, including such hazards that may have existed BEFORE the renovation commenced. (emphasis added)." This is the backdrop to the current "white glove" test for renovation clearance.  However, we might suspect that the EPA did not expect the lawsuit, brought by this group of special interest groups.  After more testing, the EPA discovered that 4 out of 10 experiments performed in accordance with the current clearance procedure provided dust lead levels that were above the clearance standards. Even though the EPA recognizes the additional expense of dust wipe testing, it is pretty reasonable to expect Friday's announcement will require dust wipe testing after cleaning verification (not instead of it) in the specified renovation activities outlined in the May 6, 2010 proposal.  Namely, dust wipe testing by a certified EPA laboratory when:

  • Removal or replacement of window or door frames
  • Use of a heat gun below 1100 degrees F, or high speed tools (i.e. sanders) for paint removal.
  • Scraping 60 or more square feet of painted surface.
  • Removing 40 or more square feet of trim, cabinetry, molding or other fixtures.
  • Removal of 6 or more square feet of  plaster and lath by “destructive” means, which the EPA has loosely defined as that done with a sledgehammer.
$293 million per year. "Benefits are not monetized or quantified, but there MAY BE benefits through: 1. Information on lead-dust levels remaining in the work area, including lead-dust that MAY HAVE been generated by renovation work. 2. Changed behavior of renovation firms, owners, and occupants which MAY prevent adverse health effect"