Home owners who aren’t pregnant and don’t have small children would be able to opt out of lead-based paint requirements put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency under a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress this week.
Reps. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and a bipartisan list of co-sponsors want to make the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead: Repair, Renovation and Painting rule less onerous for consumers doing home improvements.
H.R. 5911, the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012, is similar to legislation (S. 2148) unveiled earlier this year in the Senate by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and five other cosponsors that would help home owners and remodelers better comply with the costly work practices and record keeping requirements of the rule without compromising safety.
“This legislation will provide families greater flexibility to decide on their own remodeling activities and give them the peace of mind of knowing sound safeguards remain in place to protect against lead hazards,” 2012 NAHB Remodelers Chairman George “Geep” Moore Jr. said.
The lead-paint rule says remodelers working in homes built before 1978 have to take training in lead-safe work habits and follow safety practices designed to keep people from coming into contact with lead.
Originally, there was an “opt-out” that home owners could use that let contractors forego expensive work practices. The opt-out was only available to home owners who weren’t pregnant and didn’t have children under the age of six living in their homes.
EPA stopped allowing the opt-out, which more than doubled the number of homes subject to the lead-paint rule and added more than $336 million per year in compliance costs to the remodeling community without making young children any safer, NAHB says.
Further, EPA has failed to approve a test kit that meets the “false positive” and “false negative” criteria stated in the regulation.
Both the House and Senate bills would address these concerns and offer other reforms for EPA enforcement of the lead-paint rule. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Reinstate the opt-out provision to allow home owners without small children or pregnant women residing in them — not the government — to decide whether to require LRRP compliance.
- Suspend the rule if EPA does not approve a commercially available test kit that meets the regulation’s requirements.
- Allow remodelers to reduce fines if they correct paperwork errors found during an inspection.
- Eliminate the “hands on” recertification training requirements that force some remodelers to travel long distances to training facilities to receive proper certification.
- Provide an exemption to the regulation for emergency renovations.