The EPA's review of the Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule concludes that a regulation--much disliked by remodelers, window makers, and others--should remain unchanged without any actions to amend or rescind it.
The review was mandated under Section 610 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which required the agency to address whether provisions "that could affect small entities should be continued without change or amended to minimize adverse economic impacts" according to the report, which was released today. The EPA's basic conclusion was that there continued to be a need for the rule, even while acknowledging some problems with it.
RRP requires that when remodelers are working in houses built before 1978 on projects that could disturb lead paint, they must determine whether any lead paint is present and--if they do find presence of the paint or didn't do a test--must then use certain practices to contain the spread of the lead paint dust while they perform the remodel. The company doing the work and the renovators following lead-safe work practices both must be certified by EPA-approved training programs.
Remodelers and others dislike the rule for several reasons. One problem concerns the lack of accurate, reasonably priced kits to test whether there's enough lead at a job site to require the use of lead-safe practices. EPA noted that some test kits that it recognizes have false positive rates ranging from 63% to 84%, thus forcing remodelers and others to do far more on a job site, and for more expensively, than they need to do.
EPA estimated that at those false positive rates, the lead-paint program's cost would amount to about $1 billion. But the same program has quantified annualized benefits of $1.5 billion to $5 billion, the agency said. "Thus, the available evidence indicates that the benefits of the RRP rule continue to exceed its costs even if lead test kits meeting the positive response criterion are not available in the foreseeable future," EPA wrote.
Organizations such as the Window and Door Manufacturers Association were unhappy with the agency's decision. "While this result is disappointing, it is not surprising," the group said.
The decision to keep the RRP rule intact appears to go against the Trump Administration's efforts to roll back environmental regulations. The National Association of Home Builders met with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last year, urging him to alter this specific rule.
But lead appears to getting different treatment from the EPA than other concerns. For instance, the agency is currently considering lowering the federal benchmark at which children's exposure to lead from paint and other sources merits public health actions.