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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not effectively using the Lead, Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule, according to an agency watchdog. The EPA's Office of Inspector General also found that the agency's Lead Action Plan, released in December 2018 and designed to curb children's lead exposure, lacks measurable outcomes.

The report found the EPA does not have an "effective strategy" for implementing and enforcing the RRP rule. The watchdog concluded that without an effective strategy, "the EPA can't determine whether the program is achieving its intended purpose."

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.

The watchdog reported the agency could not properly identify or estimate how many renovators or renovations were being conducted in each of its regions. The Office of Inspector General also reported that it has been more than a decade since the EPA estimated the RRP program's universe of remodelers and that the EPA program managers don't track "RRP program resources and outreach activities, review inspections, or evaluate progress towards reducing disparities in childhood elevated blood lead levels." The watchdog said "explicit and measurable" program objectives are needed to demonstrate whether the RRP program is achieving its intended results.

Since announcing the Lead Action Plan in December, the EPA released a status report on the plan highlighting initiatives and actions being conducted to address the goals of the plan. The EPA and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development tightened standards for lead in dust on floors and window sills in June, an important step to reduce childhood lead exposure, according to the EPA. The agency also coordinated with state health departments in Ohio, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to focus on eradicating lead paint in residential homes. The coordinated efforts include contacting local businesses, including home renovation contractors, sharing up-to-date information on lead reduction requirements in the RRP rule, and helping more firms and individuals achieve certification for lead-safe work practices.