The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not require dust wipe tests under the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) in connection with work that disturbs lead-based paint in pre-1978 housing and facilities serving children under six. The revised RRP Rule was effective on October 4, 2011. EPA has announced it will increase enforcement of the lead paint rules and has begun assessing penalties under the RRP Rule.   

In May 2010, EPA proposed several revisions to the RRP Rule, including requiring dust wipe testing after certain types of renovations to demonstrate that remaining dust lead levels are below clearance levels.  After receiving over 300 comments, EPA decided not to impose these requirements, concluding that the work practices already established in the RRP Rule are “reliable, effective, and safe.” EPA said its decision is consistent with the original intent of the RRP Rule: renovators should address the lead-based paint hazards created during renovation but are not required to go beyond the scope of the renovation activity. For instance, the RRP Rule does not require renovators to clean dust in areas beyond those in and around the work area. Nor does it require renovators to replace carpets or refinish or seal floors in the area of the renovation.  

EPA did, however, promulgate other proposed revisions. Renovators will now be allowed to collect paint chip samples from components to be affected by a renovation for testing by a certified laboratory, instead of using test kits to determine whether lead-based paint is present.

EPA also made minor revisions in the training provider accreditation and application process, clarified certain training and recordkeeping requirements and established a minimum penalty authority for state and tribal programs.

Finally, EPA clarified the requirements for vertical containment for certain exterior renovations, prohibited or restricted work practices, the use of high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) vacuums and on-the-job training provided by renovators.

EPA is increasing its enforcement of the lead paint rules, with a focus on education, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and work practice standards. The National Program Manager Guidance, issued by EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance in April 2011, directs the regions to “promote compliance with all of the [lead-based paint rules] with a significant focus on the [RRP Rule].”

In particular, the Guidance instructs that 60% of inspection/enforcement actions under EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) programs should focus on lead-based paint, with the majority of those directed to the RRP Rule.

EPA has already brought one enforcement action for violation of the RRP Rule. It filed a complaint in May 2011 seeking penalties against a Rockland, Maine renovator for six violations of the RRP Rule, including failing to contain dust and debris generated during a repainting project and for failing to ensure that employees were properly trained or supervised.  EPA learned of the violations through an anonymous tip linking to a YouTube video taken in October 2010. EPA is seeking civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day per violation, for a minimum of $225,000.