MO votes to relax lead-paint regulations

April 14, 2011 -- Some Democratic lawmakers accused colleagues of putting business profits ahead of health as the Republican-led House passed legislation Thursday relaxing state regulations on contractors who remove lead-based paint.

The legislation, which would invalidate any state lead abatement rules that are stricter than federal ones, drew vocal support from two Republican lawmakers who are painters and from a third who runs a drywall business. They said Missouri's regulations are driving up business costs and leading homeowners to handle old lead paint themselves, potentially putting more people at risk.

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that took effect in April 2010 increased requirements for contractors who perform renovation, repair or painting projects that disturb lead-based paint. Lawmakers involved in the painting business said the new federal rules drew attention to the fact that some of Missouri's existing rules were even more stringent.

In particular, they cited rules by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services prohibiting outdoor lead abatement projects when winds are at least 10 mph, requiring a lead-abatement supervisor to remain onsite at all times during and mandating contractors notify the state each time their schedule changes for carrying out certain lead-abatement projects.