Recently, H.R. 5911, the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Bill of 2012, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to make changes to the EPA’s Lead: Repair, Renovation and Painting (LRRP) rule. The LRRP rule requires that remodelers and contractors working in homes built before 1978 be trained and certified by the EPA on lead-safe work practices before they can legally work in those homes.

Three months after the rule took effect, the EPA removed the "opt-out" provision that allowed contractors to forego more expensive work practices if the homeowner agreed and if no children under the age of six or pregnant women resided in the home. [Update: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled June 22 that the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the “opt-out” provision from its lead paint rule is legal. Industry groups continue to work with Congress to reinstate the opt-out provision.]

At the end of April, I attended the PHCC’s 2012 Legislative Conference, which included a day on Capitol Hill talking to legislators about small-business concerns from the perspective of plumbing, heating and cooling contractors. One of the three issues that PHCC was focusing on this year was the LRRP rule. In addition to the opt-out provision, PHCC is also concerned that, so far, there is no commercially available test kit meeting the regulation’s requirements.

This affects any contractor working in older homes. H.R. 5911 would add back the opt-out provision, suspend the rule if no approved test kits are made available and prohibit the expansion of the rule to commercial buildings. Contact your trade associations for more information.