In July 2011, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment to the 2012 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency that would prohibit the agency from enforcing its Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule until the agency approves a reliable lead test kit as mandated by the agency's own regulations. The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Denny Rehberg (RMT) and was approved by the committee.
The lead rule applies to homes built before 1978 and requires renovator training and certification, following lead-safe work practices, containing and cleaning dust and record keeping.
Under the lead paint rule, contractors have been required to wipe down the project area after completing remodeling or renovation work and match the result to an EPA-approved card to determine whether lead paint dust is still present – a process the EPA says is “effective at reducing dust lead levels below the dust-lead hazard standard.”
When the EPA implemented the final lead rule, the agency was supposed to have approved a commercially available lead test kit that produced no more than 10 percent false positives and five percent false negatives. Currently, no such kit is available on the market and some new kits produce false positives as high as 60 percent of the time.
The Rehberg Amendment would lift the burden of compliance and its costs from thousands of consumers in homes that otherwise would have tested negative. The appropriations bill has moved to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
Meanwhile on a positive note, the EPA rejected a proposal to add third-party clearance testing to the lead rule following a federal review of its impact on small businesses and job creation.
The rejected proposal would have required contractors to hire EPA-accredited dust samplers to collect several samples after a renovation and send them to an EPAaccredited lab for lead testing. Because of the cost of this as well as the waiting period for test results and the limited number of accredited labs nationwide, professional remodelers were very concerned about homeowners’ willingness to undergo the process.