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Are Commercial Buildings and Public Buildings a Lead-Paint Hazard? Contractors Could be Impacted by Renovation Regulations Contemplated by EPA

If you manage or perform renovations, repairs, or painting activities on the exterior or interior of public building or commercial buildings, you should be aware that EPA is currently evaluating whether and how to regulate such activities in public buildings or commercial buildings constructed before 1978 that pose lead-based paint hazards. On Monday, May 13, 2013, EPA issued a notice in the Federal Register that it is seeking public comment on this topic until July 12, 2013, and will host a public meeting at EPA’s headquarters on June 26, 2013.

In April 2008, the EPA issued final regulations covering child-occupied target housing, which includes residential structures and most pre-1978 housing, as well as a subset of public and commercial buildings where young children spend a significant amount of time (known as the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule). The RRP Rule requires, among other things, that contractors and subcontractors be properly trained and certified and use safe work practices to minimize lead dust. The EPA has begun aggressively enforcing the RRP Rule. On May 2, 2013, EPA announced 17 enforcement actions for violations of the RRP Rule in Missouri, Nebraska, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Tennessee, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and New Hampshire. EPA initiated a similar sweeping enforcement action in November 2012 against 16 companies in a number of states including Kansas and Illinois.

When EPA finalized the residential and housing RRP Rule, several environmental and children’s advocacy groups, filed suit against EPA seeking to expand the regulatory reach to repairs and renovations at commercial and public buildings (other than child-occupied facilities), to the extent such renovations create lead-based paint hazards.

On December 31, 2012, EPA announced its intention to hold a public meeting and to seek comment and data pertaining to the renovation, repair, and painting activities on public and commercial buildings. Today’s May 13 federal register notice, reopens the comment period until July 12, 2013. EPA has specifically requested information on:

  • The manufacture, sale, and uses of lead-based paint after 1978;
  • The used of lead-based paint on public and commercial buildings;
  • The frequency and extent of renovations of public and commercial buildings;
  • Work practices used to renovate public and commercial buildings; and
  • Dust generation and transportation from exterior and interior renovations of public and commercial buildings.

According to EPA’s May 13, 2013, federal register notice, the agency has also prepared a discussion guide that includes a description of the information received during the previous comment period in the rulemaking docket.

Spencer Fane Britt and Browne, LLP, routinely works with construction contractors and related businesses in rulemaking and associated regulatory developments. Construction businesses, contractors, demolition companies, and related entities that seek additional information on EPA’s proposed action may contact any member of Spencer Fane’s Environmental Practice Group or Construction Law Group.