Lack of a reliable lead test mandated by the LRRP rule is preventing full enforcement.
Tests which are currently available sometimes have a false positive rate as high as 60%, causing huge unnecessary expense, or worse, risk to homeowners who try to clean up the lead contamination themselves or use uncertified contractors to do so.
Tests mandated by the rule must have a false positive rate no higher than 10% and a false negative rate no higher than 5%, but these tests have not yet been developed successfully.
The LRRP rule is being amended to eliminate this mandate.
A reliable test would increase all of our confidence in the health of our homes and office buildings, so we hope that it will be available soon, mandate or no.
Contractors working with lead-based materials in buildings built before 1978—including plumbers, painters, flooring refinishers, window installers, electricians and even landlords and property managers—are all required to be certified by the EPA or face stiff fines of up to $37,500 per day.
This part of the LRRP rule is being enforced and rightly so. Anyone who works with lead-based materials, especially in any structure occupied or used by children, needs to know and work within the safety policies of the EPA. Make sure you always use an EPA-certified contractor if your building was built prior to 1978!
Lead-Dust Sampling and Analysis
The EPA has decided that “it is not necessary to impose new lead-dust sampling and laboratory analysis, known as the clearance requirements” in the LRRP rule. They have determined that the existing clean up policies and work practices are adequate and that the new clearance requirements would be cost-prohibitive.
Contractors are currently required to take special care not to contaminate properties near where they are working—making sure that lead dust does not travel from the work site to other sites.
The EPA plans to follow procedures set down in the Regulatory Flexibility Act to allow “equivalent” procedures to be used to contain lead-dust during renovations projects.
Vertical containment of lead dust is an important factor in the renovation of older buildings, but there is more than one way to achieve it. We applaud the EPA for their flexibility, which allows projects to go forward with reasonable budgets rather than having to put off renovations, since the economy is so tough for contractors and owners alike.
Alliance Environmental Group is a California company and the rules are quite strict here already. Federal environmental protection rules are there to keep everyone safe all over the US. We hope that there are ways to increase safety while allowing work to continue, jobs to proliferate and businesses to grow.
Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager and Blogger for Alliance Environmental Group, Inc. and AirTek. Wendy welcomes feedback in the comments!