Monday, May 3, 2010

Update on EPA's New Lead Paint Rules for Remodeling Contractors

EPA's new renovation, repair, or painting (RRP) rules for remodeling contractors went into effect on April 22nd.   I wrote about this new rule on this page previously.  The Chicago Tribune ran an article over the weekend about the new rule and compliance issues.  The article does a good job at summarizing the issue - only about 200 out of 1,000 companies doing remodeling work in Illinois were RRP certified two days before the rule took effect, according to the EPA.  


In the past months I have had the opportunity to discuss this rule with several chapters of the Home Builders Association of Illinois.  These groups have been very proactive in getting the word out to member contractors and scheduling training classes to help contractors get certified and comply with the new rule.  Also, the Illinois Department of Public Health's Lead Program has led a series of informational meetings around the State to inform contractors and answer questions about the rule.  I had the opportunity to attend one of these meetings in Peoria last month, and it was very well attended and well received.  


Compliance with the new rule will bear a cost, which will inevitably be passed on to the homeowners/consumers.  Therefore consumers need to be educated about this program, so they understand why they should hire a certified firm to do a project, and pay more, rather than an uncertified firm.  


The article also indicates that the EPA is mostly relying on the industry to police itself and on consumer complaints to enforce the new rule.    This may present a temptation for contractors to not comply and take their chances to not get caught.  Beware!  Non-compliant contractors may be liable for civil and/or criminal penalties of up to $37,500 per violation per day.  All it takes is one dissatisfied client, competitor, employee, etc. to question your compliance record, rightly or wrongly, and EPA may well then come and inspect your records.  


EPA has issued a memo regarding implementation of the RRP rule and a corresponding Frequently Asked Questions guide, to help address some of the concerns with the transition to this new rule.  

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