Mike Patterson, owner of Patterson Builders-Remodelers, in Gaithersburg, Md., wrote to REMODELING today in response to "Add It Up," editor-in-chief Craig Webb's "First Word" column for the July issue in which Webb said the cost of the EPA's lead-paint rule didn't justify its benefits.

I appreciated your column this month. It's important, I think, for our industry's premier publication (or at least its editor) to express a clear point of view, and I am cheered by what you wrote. Whether it will have any effect, who knows?

Like so many other heated issues, the debate devolves very quickly into an emotional tug of war, in which the future health of our children is used as a club, making honest debate all but impossible, lest our industry be held right up there with those who dumped in the Love Canal, or set the Cuyahoga river on fire.

I'd love to see a rational debate on the issue, particularly as it relates to small, one-man shows like me. In conversations with several NARI colleagues, I've been somewhat irked with the larger ones, for whom compliance with this and the myriad other rules that we live under involves little more than increasing the workload on existing staff. They can, in effect, buy their way into compliance with little personal "pain". For guys like me, on the other hand ... chief cook and bottle washer, field, sales and admin all rolled into one, every additional "i" I'm required to dot comes at the expense of what little time I have available, and takes me further and further from what was, in my younger days, a far more passionate vocation. It saddens and angers me.

Thanks again for putting your point of view out there. I hope you're not crucufied for it!