EPA To Roll Back Lead-Based Paint Protection

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) recently released internal EPA documents that show that Environmental Protection Agency acting administrator, Stephen Johnson, plans to replace a regulation under development by EPA requiring certification of construction workers renovating buildings that may contain lead paint with a voluntary compliance standard. This move to a voluntary standard significantly weakens the regulation and puts more workers and children at risk for lead exposure from dust and debris. From the press release: By law, EPA is supposed to require that certified contractors using workers trained in lead-safe practices do all remodeling in building constructed before 1978. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the deadline for EPA to adopt these “regulations to renovation or remodeling activities” was October 28, 1996. Although behind schedule, EPA continued to develop regulations through 2003. In 2004, however, then-Deputy and now-Acting Administrator Stephen Johnson moved to scrap plans for renovation regulations and instead opt for a yet to be developed voluntary approach, according to agency records. Earlier this month, President Bush nominated Johnson to become EPA Administrator. Johnson made his decision despite EPA’s own analyses showing the renovation regulations had a net economic benefit of at least $2.73 billion per year. These internal analyses also showed that –
  • An estimated 1.4 million children under age 7 residing in some 4.9 million households are at risk of lead exposure due to unsafe repair and renovations;
  • The renovation regulations could be expected to prevent at least 28,000 lead-related illnesses each year, thereby preventing $1.6 billion in medical costs and economic losses annually; and
  • The additional cost to homeowners would average $116 per interior renovation and $42 for exterior work.
Renovation of older homes is the principal cause of exposure to lead by children in the United States. Original Regulation Under Development by EPA Voluntary Standard
back to Blog