To the relief of remodelers who work on pre-1978 housing, the EPA announced in July that it will not require remodelers to send dust samples to an accredited lab for lead testing at the completion of a renovation project.
The announcement came as somewhat of a surprise. On May 6, 2010, as part of an August 2009 legal settlement with environmental and children's-health advocacy groups, the EPA had proposed a revision to the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule that would have required this testing. The agency was widely expected to adopt the requirement when the proposal's review period ended and the final rule was released on July 15, 2011.
Instead, the agency determined that third-party lead testing was not necessary and "that the full suite of RRP work practice requirements, including containment, cleaning, and cleaning verification, was effective at minimizing exposure to lead-based paint hazards created by renovation, repair, and painting activities."
The agency explained that it had weighed concerns that by requiring clearance testing, it would in effect be making remodelers responsible for cleaning up pre-existing lead contamination. The RRP rule was designed, according to the EPA, "to address the lead-based paint hazards created during the renovation while not requiring renovation firms to remediate or eliminate hazards beyond the scope of the work they were hired to do." The EPA decided that adding clearance requirements to the RRP rule would cross a line between renovation and lead abatement.
The EPA emphasized that it is committed to reducing lead hazards in the home, and that homeowners may certainly opt for dust-wipe testing, whether they are renovating or not. To get the word out, the agency has released a new version of its "Renovate Right" pamphlet that includes information on lead-dust testing (epa.gov/lead).
Once the final rule goes into effect on October 4, remodelers will be required to provide homeowners with this latest version of the "Renovate Right" pamphlet (or the April 2010 version along with the insert that can be found at epa.gov/lead/pubs/insert.pdf).
The final rule also clarifies that vertical containment must be used on exterior projects that disturb painted surfaces within 10 feet of a property line