Members of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) will press members of Congress next week to support legislation that would enable most Americans to opt out of mandatory tests for lead-paint dust when crews work on older homes, WDMA's chairman said.

Ann Duebner said in an interview Wednesday that her group also will seek to limit a toughening of certain Energy Star standards for new windows and doors that it regards as being likely to push manufacturing costs up and consumer purchases down. Duebner is vice president of sales and administration for Eggers Industries, Two Rivers, Wis.

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP) took effect in April 2010. It requires contractors to follow certain testing and operational procedures when they work in houses built before 1978 because of the potential for their work to raise paint dust containing lead. Failure to follow the rules can subject renovators to fines of as much as $37,500 per day. LRRP's advocates say the long-sought rules are important because the lead-paint dust is a known health danger, particularly to children and the elderly.

When the rule was still in its proposal stage, EPA had included a provision that enabled homeowners to sign a provision in which they could opt out of the provision's mandates if they didn't have children under age 6 or pregnant women living in the house. But when EPA issued its final rule, it eliminated that opt-out provision. Groups such as WDMA and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) have been fighting to get the opt-out restored, first through an ultimately unsuccessful legal appeal and now through legislation.
During its Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference on March 18-20, WDMA will urge members of Congress to support S. 484, the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act, introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and six cosponsors. S. 484 would restore the opt-out provision and limit expansion of the LRRP to commercial buildings, as now is being discussed. It also curbs the LRRP's impact if the EPA cannot approve an effective, reliable testing kit—another sore point with LRRP's detractors.

"We're really looking at reforming the rule to protect pregnant women and small children without being orderly burdensome for remodelers and small homeowners," Duebner said. "The current regulations go beyond that by imposing regulations on any owner of a home built before 1978, regardless of whether there’s pregnant women or children there."

As for Energy Star, Duebner said WDMA will press to make sure the popular program evolves in a way to assure that the energy efficIencies it seeks don't come at the price of pushing the costs of replacement windows and doors and skylights to unaffordable levels for most Americans. "They need to be reasonably affordable rather than focusing on what are the most efficient products you can possibly create," she said. "Most of those products are out of reach of the homeowner and would deter any homeowner for improving their home. … Our concern is that we’re losing sight of what the program should be.”

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