PRESS RELEASE

EPA MULLING REGULATORY OPTIONS ON LEAD PAINT

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Washington, DC — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now preparing
draft regulations governing lead-safe repair and renovation in older housing,
according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). After months of dissembling, EPA is now openly committed
to proposing regulations that it was required to have in place back in 1996
by the end of this year.

A June 16, 2005 briefing for EPA Administrator Steve Johnson admits that eliminating
lead hazards in home repair is the last major step towards meeting the national
goal of ending “childhood lead poisoning by 2010.” The briefing
paper also stresses “there is a relationship between renovation and elevations
in children’s blood lead levels.” The agency estimates that 7.7
million repairs or renovations occur each year in older housing containing lead-based
paint.

Nonetheless, several of the options the agency is reviewing fall well short
of meeting legal requirements that workers be trained in lead-safe practices
whenever remodeling housing constructed before 1978:

  • One option limits lead safe repair only to “child occupied”
    homes, leaving adults as well as children who later move into lead dust-laden
    homes at risk;
  • Another option would apply rules only to pre-1960 housing, omitting millions
    of units built between 1960 and 1978 that contain lead-based paint; and
  • Most of the options lack both prescriptive standards spelling out unsafe
    practices that would be prohibited and enforcement programs.

EPA is not conducting any studies on which options have the best public health
return. Instead, the agency is only performing economic analyses of the breakeven
point for proposed rules as measured by the number of children under age 7 who
must avoid losing an IQ point for the regulation to be justified.

“EPA is again trying to weasel out of its statutory obligations under
the Toxic Substances Control Act to protect public health,” stated PEER
General Counsel Richard Condit, whose organization exposed EPA’s decision
to completely abandon the lead repair and renovation regulation and led the
campaign this spring to force EPA to reverse that decision. “Five years
ago, EPA’s own analyses showed that full compliance with the law will
net billions in net benefits annually but the agency buried that work because
the Bush administration opposed anything that resembled regulation.”

In July, PEER organized a coalition of a more than a dozen public health organizations
that filed a formal 60-day notice of intent to sue EPA for its nine-year delay
in adopting regulations to ensure that repairs and renovations in older housing
are conducted in a lead-safe manner. The groups will be able to sue EPA in early
September, months before EPA’s promised new deadline for producing an
initial draft proposal for discussion.

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Read
the June 16, 2005 Briefing for the Administrator, “Lead-Safe Work Practices
for the Renovation, Repair & Painting Industry”

View
the Table of “Regulatory Options” that EPA is studying

See
the EPA letter to U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) pledging a lead-safe repair
regulation

Find
out more about EPA’s abandoned commitment to protect children from lead
dust