Representatives from remodeling and building organizations on June 4 expressed their frustrations with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the lack of reliable lead paint test kits currently on the market. Most witnesses at the public meeting cited the same complaint: due to high false positive rates, companies are forced to spend more to take precautions that may not be needed.
Since the 2008 Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule was enacted, no test kit has been developed that meets the positive test criteria. Three kits are currently recognized by the EPA for the negative response criteria, 3M Lead Check, D-Lead, and The State of Massachusetts Test Kit. Only the first two are commercially available.
The FY 2015 Appropriations included a policy rider directing the agency to have a dialogue with stakeholders to identify a test kit that would meet the criteria within the RRP rule and reduce costs for companies and consumers to comply with the rule.
Tanya Mottley, an EPA representative, described the meeting as primarily a listening session for the EPA. Presenters were given five minutes to speak. Comments were heard from several different organizations.
Gene Pinzer spoke on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, stating, “HUD likes the RRP Rule, but does have difficulties with the spot test kit requirements.” He added, “HUD thinks that the science is just not there yet,” and the organization “would be happy with better spot test kits that meet the RRP criteria.”
QuanTech, which was awarded a research grant by HUD, discussed its preliminary findings and the current state of test kits. The company’s representative, Dr. David Cox said, “There are two commercially available kits that meet false negative criteria, one of them had estimated false positive rates of over 99% and the other had false positive rates of between 66% and 97% depending on the user, substrate and color of paint. The simple answer is the current kits are very far off.” His company is working to create a more accurate kit.
Toiya Goodlow, EPA spokesperson, cited its false positive numbers for the two kits as between 60 to 84% and as low as 22%.
Bob Hanbury of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) highlighted issues renovators face, including project delays and additional costs. Renovators are over applying the rule, creating an unnecessary burden on their businesses and homeowners.
“While there are affordable commercially available test kits on the market, they are by no means accurate and EPA has repeatedly acknowledged the fact on their website that to date no test kit has met all performance criteria outlined on RRP rule,” Hanbury said.
He also voiced the NAHB’s concern that as of 2013 the EPA stopped research into developing new kit that would meet criteria, adding, “the EPA has failed to uphold its commitment.”
Kevin McKenney, representative for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), said his organization agrees with NAHB. McKenney also spoke about concerns of incurring added costs when the risk is not there. He said WDMA estimated the minimum cost to comply with the rule at $60 per window opening.
Ben Gann, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) reiterated that none of the kits meet positive standards. However, he said that he’s optimistic and it’s “positive that the EPA is complying and acknowledging that there is still work to be done on the test kit.”
To date, no test kit has been developed that has been developed that meets the positive test criteria. Three kits are currently recognized by the EPA for the negative response criteria, 3M Lead Check, D-Lead, and The State of Massachusetts Test Kit. Only the first two are commercially available.
In addition to the meeting, the EPA is taking written statements. Written comments may be submitted through a docket by July 6, 2015.
The EPA said it’s currently at the information gathering stage of this process. All comments will be reviewed and next steps will be determined. Other meetings will be scheduled if needed.