In response to Wayne Baruch’s letter published in this magazine on June 21, Mr. Baruch does not understand the reasonableness of the opt-out provision that the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) supports and I testified to Congress about. Since the regulatory process began, NAHB has been involved in making this workable for remodelers but most importantly crafting a rule that protects children and pregnant women from lead hazards.
The removal of the opt-out provision dismantles everything that the EPA included in its original 2008 RRP rule to ensure that it would not be overly costly to small businesses and inadvertently places home owners and their families at risk of exposure to lead.
As the costs of complying with the rule without an accurate lead test are revealed, homeowners balk at the price and opt to do the work themselves or not at all – both of which increase the chances of lead exposure if lead paint is present.
As many professional remodelers who comply with the rule can attest, they are being underbid by ‘fly-by-night’ contractors who are not certified or properly trained. Consumers who hire these contractors are risking the health of their family. This serves neither those rule-abiding remodelers like the people who attend Mr. Baruch’s RRP classes nor the intent of the rule.
The unavailability of an accurate test kit, which EPA promised by September 2010, is a major problem. NAHB has urged EPA to support the introduction of an accurate test kit for years because the current EPA approved test kit has such a high percentage of false positives that many projects are being completed under the RRP guidelines when in fact no lead exists. This puts an additional and unnecessary financial burden on the consumer and contractor and leads to the risky scenario involving untrained, fly-by-night contractors or DIY demolition.
Under the rule, if a pre-1978 home is tested and the results indicate there is no presence of lead-based paint, the contractor can bypass RRP compliance. NAHB supports this reasonable component to the rule, but it also hinges on the existence of an accurate testing kit.