Industry Concerned About Expanding EPA Lead Program to Commercial Buildings

As part of the Commercial Properties Coalition, ABC April 1 submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to their request for information on a possible rulemaking that would regulate renovation, repair and painting activities on and in public and commercial buildings to address possible lead-based paint hazards.
EPA is looking to expand its existing Lead Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting rule that went into effect in April 2010 and that requires contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb more than six feet of lead-based paint in most pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead poisoning. After that rule became final, EPA began efforts to expand it to include commercial buildings, but was delayed in September 2012 as a result of a settlement agreement.

Before moving forward with an initiative that would have such a large impact, the coalition pointed out that the agency needs to develop a rule, as required by the Toxic Substances Control Act, to identify if “dangerous levels of lead” even exist in commercial and public buildings. In addition, because of the fundamentally different uses, occupancies and renovation work practices in commercial buildings versus homes, the coalition noted EPA also should not rely on the information that was gathered for “target housing” to justify a public and commercial program. Instead, the agency could use the massive stock of federal buildings to collect the scientific, technical and work practices they are seeking.  

The coalition also pointed out that the agency needs to consider whether existing regulatory programs and industry practices already address any potential lead-based paint hazards and renovation work practices in public and commercial buildings. 

As required by the settlement agreement, EPA will hold a public meeting on June 26 on this issue. Another formal proposal on this potential rulemaking isn’t expected until 2015.