This is the fourth (and last) in a series of back-and-forth comments that began with our our report on testimony and lobbying by NAHB Remodelers in favor of legislation reforming the lead-paint rule. Wayne Baruch, president of The Artisans Group, a construction, restoration, remodeling, and expert witness firm based in Hillsborough, N.J., wrote to us saying the NAHB was wrong to promote reform. NAHB Remodelers chairman Bill Shaw then sent a reply. Here is Baruch's response to that reply.

Among other guidance, EPA provides details about the percentage of homes that were built in various decades and the amount of LBP (lead-based paint) that they contain. We have also seen assertions about the link between LBP and autism, for example. Is there any unambiguous epidemiology that says for example, “A 1-year-old who is exposed to X concentration of lead over Y months has a Z percent chance of contracting this or that neuromuscular condition?"

The biggest problem with putting on a blindfold and rolling back standards in the interest of profit is that doing so is self-serving and violates NAHB’s Code of Ethics. Among other clauses, NAHB certified professionals state, “I pledge to:

  • CONDUCT my business affairs with professionalism and skill.
  • COMPLY with the rules and regulations prescribed by law and government agencies for the health, safety, and welfare of the community.
  • PROTECT the consumer through the use of high-quality materials and building practices backed by integrity and service.
  • COMPLY with the spirit and letter of my business contracts, and manage all of my employees, subcontractors, and suppliers with fairness and honor.
  • PROVIDE the best building value possible.

As a Certified Graduate Builder, I assume the full responsibilities of this Code of Ethics freely, and am solemnly mindful that these responsibilities are a part of my obligation as a Certified Graduate Builder. I pledge my support to this Code of Ethics."

There are already provisions in the RRP program for emergency repairs. Homeowners balking at the additional cost of using lead-safe practices is not a good reason for saying, by analogy, “OK, I won’t remind you that drinking and driving is stupid, even if you are confident about your skills and attentiveness.”

How does reestablishing the opt-out protect children? Assuming that their home is/may be contaminated, how is it reasonable for a construction professional to support the owner who opts out of compliance with a higher standard of practice? How is it reasonable for that builder, remodeler, painter, etc., to put his or her team and company at risk by violating OSHA, state, and/or local regulations? How can it be reasonable for that professional to put neighbors or visitors to the building at risk of lead toxicity? Instead of helping to raise the bar for workmanship and standards of practice, I guess that NAHB prefers the easy, profit-seeking way out by adopting a lesser standard?