A bill seeks reform of lead-paint rules

The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 seeks to reduce burdens placed on home remodelers.

Applauded by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), the bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would reform the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) Rule. 

The new bill -- H.R. 5911 -- was introduced Thursday by Reps. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and would reduce the burdens of the rule on the home remodeling and retrofit market, while maintaining protections for pregnant women and small children from lead hazards. Similar NLBMDA-supported legislation (S.2148) was introduced in the Senate in March.

"The NLBMDA and our members have worked tirelessly to reform the misguided EPA lead rule, and the introduction of legislation in the House of Representatives shows that our industry concerns are being heard on Capitol Hill," said NLBMDA chair Cally Fromme, executive VP of Zarsky Lumber in Victoria, Texas. "We commend Congressmen Sullivan and Murphy and appreciate their leadership on this issue. We will make passage of this bill a top priority." 

The existing LRRP rule requires renovation work in pre-1978 homes to follow rigorous and costly work practices supervised by an EPA-certified renovator. In July 2010, the EPA removed the "opt-out" provision from the rule that allowed homeowners without children under age 6 or pregnant women residing in the home to allow their contractor to forego the use of the arduous work practices required by the rule. The removal of the opt-out provision doubled the number of homes subject to the rule, and the EPA has estimated that this amendment will add more than $336 million per year in compliance costs to the regulated community, including homeowners.

In addition, the EPA has failed to approve a commercially available test kit producing no more than 10% false positives, in violation of its own rules.  The lack of EPA-compliant test kits has resulted in some consumers paying for unnecessary work because of false positive test results.

Among its key provisions, H.R. 5911 would restore the "opt-out" clause, suspending the LRRP if EPA cannot approve a commercially available test kit.