Industry groups want to delay lead dust regulation

U.S. home remodelers are scrambling to comply with a new regulation that seeks to reduce the amount of lead dust created during home renovations and repairs and protect children from lead poisoning, according to The Wall Street Journal. Industry groups such as the National Association of Home Builders say the new regulation will increase costs, unfairly expose them to fines and litigation and potentially diminish Washington, D.C.'s energy-efficiency efforts.

The regulation mandates that contractors who work in older homes must become certified by a government-approved trainer and follow certain precautions. Industry groups are lobbying Congress and the White House to delay the rule's implementation; they say the government hasn't certified enough firms to handle lead-contaminated materials. However, environmental and health groups say the industry has had years to prepare and delaying the rule would put more children at risk.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the costs of complying with the new regulation will range from $8 to $167 per project but says costs could be higher for outdoor projects; industry officials say the costs will be much higher—at least $70 for simple projects and thousands of dollars for more complex projects.

The EPA says although the average concentration of lead in children's blood has fallen sharply since the government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978, too many still are being poisoned. From 1999 through 2004, about 285,000 children between the ages of one and five years were estimated to have elevated lead levels in their blood each year.

However, industry groups say the EPA has accredited only 135 businesses and fewer than 14,000 individuals—when the EPA proposed the regulation in March 2008, it estimated 212,000 firms and 236,000 contractors will need to be certified. The EPA says it has trained 50,000 individuals and plans to train 50,000 more by April 22, when the rule will take effect. It also has accredited 184 training providers and plans to accredit about 100 more by April 22.

The regulation's supporters say instead of delaying the rule, Congress should give the EPA more money to promote awareness and subsidize training for contractors. They also suggest the EPA refrain from penalizing contractors who comply with the rule's core requirements and demonstrate progress toward full compliance.

The rule reportedly will protect about 1.4 million children during its first year.

Members can read NRCA's Special Report regarding the new lead-based paint rules by clicking here.

Date : 4/1/2010