EPA Seeks Industry Input on Potential Lead Hazard Regulations for Commercial Buildings
April 23, 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today issued a "prepublication version" of its proposed rulemaking on "Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program for Public and Commercial Buildings."

In the notice, the agency requests input on the potential for regulating the renovation, repair and painting of public and commercial buildings under section 402(c)(3) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The agency aims to determine whether lead-based paint hazards are created by interior renovation, repair and painting projects in public and commercial buildings. For those renovations in the interiors of public and commercial buildings that create lead-based paint hazards, EPA will propose regulations to address these hazards.

The goal of the new rule is to ensure that persons working in areas that may be lead-based paint hazards are properly trained, that training programs are accredited and that contractors performing these activities are certified. Today's announcement cites glass and glazing contractors as among the parties likely to be impacted by the final rule.

New lead-based paint regulations for the residential industry were released today as well, and, though scheduled to take effect on April 22, will now take effect 60 days after the rule appears in the Federal Register and is submitted to both houses of Congress (CLICK HERE for related story). For several months residential window manufacturers have spoken out vehemently about updates to the rule that requires contractors disturbing paint-such as by replacing windows-in homes built prior to 1978 to be certified. The primary concern is that renovation firms are no longer able to be exempted from the training and work practice requirements of the rule by obtaining certification from the owner of a residence that no child under age six or pregnant woman resides in the home and the home is not a child-occupied facility. Dealers who don't comply with the residential regulation can be fined $32,500 per violation, per day for non-compliance. Members of the industry have objected to the significant costs this expected to add to window replacement. In addition, the industry has expressed concern that only a fraction of installers have been made aware of the rule and obtained certification.

For today's proposed rule, EPA is requesting comment on, among other issues, information and data on the types of buildings that should be considered "public buildings" or "commercial buildings," as it is not defined conclusively in this rule. Earlier regulations had limited activity to "child-occupied" facilities but today's notice states: "EPA's regulatory definition of 'public and commercial building' … provides examples of the types of buildings covered, including industrial and office buildings, government-owned buildings, colleges, museums, airports, hospitals, churches, preschools, stores, warehouses and factories. Notwithstanding the differences in focus between TSCA Title II and Title IV, EPA believes that a similar broad approach to interpreting 'public building' and 'commercial building' is warranted in this rulemaking. Of course, EPA must still determine which renovations in which buildings create lead-based paint hazards."

The agency also is aiming to determine whether to continue to rely on two earlier agency studies - the Environmental Field Sampling Study and the Dust Study - both of which evaluated the amount of leaded dust generated by activities including window replacement. EPA also requests comment on the extent to which these two EPA studies should inform EPA's determination on lead-based paint hazards created by renovations in the interiors of public and commercial buildings, "especially considering that some of the renovations in the Dust Study were performed in a school building."

In addition, EPA asks "What information and data are available on the prevalence of leaded paint? … Does the prevalence or lead level differ by building age, component or type (e.g., interior or exterior; doors and windows, trim or walls; wood substrate or metal substrate)?"

The official document will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Federal Register. Upon its publication in the Register, individuals can use EPA's electronic docket and comment system at www.regulations.gov to submit or view public comments.

CLICK HERE for more information.

CLICK HERE to offer your comments.

Stay tuned to USGNN.com for further details as they emerge.

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