I really love hearing that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that they are delaying enforcement of the new rules on working with lead-painted structures and building components known as Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP). 

I really love hearing that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that they are delaying enforcement of the new rules on working with lead-painted structures and building components known as Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP). Actually they made this announcement on June 18, 2010; I am just now getting around to whining about it (out loud). Under the rule, beginning April 22, 2010, contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities, and schools built before 1978 must be certified and must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.

Following the typical big-institution planning method known as, “Ready, Fire, Aim,” the government agency made their rule on April 22, 2008, without considering everything that goes into actually implementing it. A ginormous flood in Nashville, Tenn., was probably the last cry from contractors that prompted the agency to do something. That is the nature of the construction industry … we tend to run hot and cold (this is not news). Adding insult to injury, they chose not to suspend the ruling but stated they were “delaying enforcement.”

OK, so they are delaying enforcement, which tells me the rule is still in place so I assume it should be followed regardless the lack of enforcement. They are just going to turn the other way for some more months and act like it is not. I am sorry, but this just strikes me as creepy.

My advice is to follow the EPA rules and do not wait until they “resume enforcement.” To begin with, it is a good idea to safely remove lead paint. The potential to do harm is pretty far out there these days but it is real and preventing bad things happening to children is good. (I was born in 1951 so I was exposed to lead paint for the duration of my childhood, and while I have managed to survive this long somehow I do blame lead for my rapidly diminishing mental capacity.) C’mon … is it OK to speed and drive in the wrong lane so long as you know the police won’t do anything?

Next good reason to adopt the new rules for dealing with lead paint is the liability. Think about it. If something bad happens because of lead paint exposure on a building that you are even remotely connected to, you must be able to demonstrate that you have done and are doing the right thing. The EPA may not come arrest you for bad behavior now but they are not going to come to court with you to defend you either.

That would be great, huh? Can you imagine the EPA testifying on behalf of a contractor being sued for improperly sanding, chipping, covering, repainting or otherwise removing lead-painted building components? You are on your own in this regard - rules enforcement or not. And you are on your own right now.