EPA Delays New Lead Paint Rules

We recently wrote about new <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/lead_paint_poisoning">lead paint rules that involve home renovations for houses built before 1978. In the United States, the new federal rule mandates that a contractor certified in the handling of lead-based paint be hired for any renovations. The rule is geared toward reducing lead exposure and poisoning in children.

Now, The Associated Press (AP) reports that contractors are receiving an extension on the time needed to meet these requirements. Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the extension is set at October 1, said the AP, noting that rule enforcement mandates contractors include certain precautions when renovating houses that could expose children to lead dust. It seems, reported the AP, industry pressure and Republicans in Congress prompted the delay.

The so-called “lead-safe” practices apply to work being done on those homes, day-care centers, and schools built before 1978, the AP noted. Contractors now have until September 30 to sign up for training and until December 31 to complete the training under the new extension, according to the AP.

A lead ban in paint was put in place in 1978 and, since, the number of children poisoned by the dangerous metal has decreased; however, the EPA—the agency that imposed the rule—said, this April, that despite the drop, a million children are impacted annually.

A known neurotoxin, lead exposure can cause brain and nervous system damage in children and fetuses. The toxin also causes behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Of particular concern is the developing brain because negative influences can have long-lasting effects and can continue well into puberty and beyond. Lead is known to cause cancer and reproductive harm and, in adults, can damage the nervous system. In high doses, lead poisoning can cause seizure, coma, and death. Once poisoned by lead, no organ system is immune; experts agree that there is no safe level of lead.

Despite the extension, the EPA argued in a statement that it continues to remain committed to protection children and consumers from lead poisoning, saying that the “EPA can and will take enforcement action when contractors violate those work practices,” quoted the AP. According to EPA spokesman, Brendan Gilfillan, the delay enables firms the time needed to file paperwork proving lead-safe work practices are in place and will also allow contractors time to enroll and complete the mandated training, wrote the AP.

Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma (Senior Republican Senate Environment and Public Works Committee) praised the delay saying, “We won,” referring to those who pushed for the delay in enforcing the rule. Inhofe claimed he is a supporter of the rule, but said that how the EPA has handled the situation a “disaster,” the AP reported.

In April we wrote that the EPA said it would not delay implementation of the rule and, of note, expected about 125,000 contractors to be certified by the rule’s implementation, which is about 75,000 short of what was originally hoped for.

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