The EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) was enacted in 2008 and became fully effective in 2010. The intended purpose of this rule is to protect children and any vulnerable individuals from exposure to lead dust during renovations. Lead-based paint was banned in 1978 after it was discovered that exposure to lead could cause a number of health problems, especially in young children, including behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, seizures, and even death.
Recently the EPA found Lowe’s, one of the nation’s largest home improvement retailers, to be in violation of the RRP rule. The RRP Rule mandates that any firms conducting renovations, repairs, and painting projects that will result in the disturbance of lead based paint in any building and/or facility, where children are present, and that was built before 1978, must be:
- Certified by the EPA or an EPA authorized state,
- Use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved trainers and
- Follow lead-safe work practices
The EPA found Lowe’s in violation of this rule after an investigation was conducted, prompted by complaints submitted by the public. Lowe’s failed to provide documentation verifying that all their contractors were certified by the EPA, properly trained to use lead safe work practices and had correctly used EPA-approved lead testing kits on renovated sites. Furthermore the EPA found that Lowe’s had failed to ensure work areas had been properly contained and cleaned during three, at-home renovations.
As a result of the EPA’s investigation, Lowe’s implemented a companywide program in over 1,700 of its stores. Lowe’s has agreed to ensure that the contractors they hire to perform work will follow proper lead safe work practices. If Lowe’s finds any of their contractors are in violation of the RRP rule, they must be suspended and conduct a proper investigation to ensure any violations are corrected. Additionally Lowe’s will also have to pay $500,000 in civil penalties, which is the largest violation of the RRP Rule to date.
The EPA’s case against Lowe’s is sending a clear message to the construction industry: get lead certified and comply with the RRP Rule. Complying with this rule is of the utmost importance to protect our communities and children from exposure to lead.
To be assured the contractor you are using is certified under the EPA’s RRP Rule you can look for the “Lead-Safe” Logo on contractors’ uniforms, signs and websites. Contractors should provide owners and occupants of buildings built before 1978 with information on lead-based paint hazards prior to renovations.
by Amanda Firley, Project Coordinator