|Action||Initial promulgation of Lead-based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Regulation|
|Comment Period||Ends 7/23/2021|
As the Board reviews the requirements for promulgation of the RRP Regulations, I request consideration of the following:
That the regulation is founded in the knowledge that the release of lead-containing paint into the environment is potentially hazardous to the occupants of the home, workers, and the public.
That (quoting from the Agency’s Background Document) “the goal of the proposed regulation is to ensure that individuals and businesses conducting lead-based paint renovation, repairs and painting activities are properly licensed so as the enhance the Department’s ability to protect the health, safety and welfare of Virginia citizens from the hazard of lead-based paint poisoning.”
That the regulation itself will not protect occupants, workers and the public from these hazards. Compliance with the regulations – assured by monitoring activities and enforcement of the regulations, will.
That the EPA, since the RRP regulation’s inception effective 2010, has substantially failed to assure significant compliance with the law, for lack of a clear means and resources to do so. It is likely that Virginia will find itself in the same position once responsibility for administration and enforcement passes to responsibility of the Commonwealth.
There is substantial disregard for this law. One of the Nation’s largest home improvement outlets, Home Depot, was found to have violated the regulation in “hundreds of instances” in 2020. Popular Home Television stars Chip & Joanna Gaines were found in serious violation of the regulations as they broadcast their unsafe practices to millions on their show, “Fixer Upper”.
Homeowners desiring renovations to their pre-1978 homes are uninformed of the law, and therefore unwittingly endangered by illegal and unsafe practices performed by untrained / uncertified contractors.
The mandate for promulgation requires that Virginia shall include the requirements of the Federal law, but is allowed to have requirements more restrictive than that law.
I propose that Virginia can lead the way in assuring the effectiveness of this law, and thereby the safety of its citizens, as the RRP regulation promulgates to our administration and enforcement.
One logical path is to increase in-progress enforcement. However, locating / identifying instances of violation has previously been accomplished solely by reliance on “whistle-blowers”. That is problematic in many ways, and still requires multiple enforcement officers to follow-up on tips. Any reasonably effective means for in-progress enforcement will surely require legions of new enforcement officers throughout the state, for which there would be substantial expense to the Commonwealth.
I propose instead, a more cost-effective and generally-effective means of assuring substantially-increased compliance.
The Commonwealth may order that municipalities issuing building permits for renovations and repairs add the following requirements to their permit applications:
These simple additional requirements, which would require a minimum of effort and expense on the part of Virginia municipalities’ planning departments, could be easily established and administered with a minimum of expense. The Commonwealth of Virginia could then be exemplary in its leadership toward the health, safety and well-being of its citizens.
I look forward to discussing the means to doing so, at your public hearing on July 14th.
COMMENTS ON 18VAC15-50, Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Regulations.
Submitted by Bob Becker, Richmond City Health District, Lead Safe and Healthy Homes Initiative.
Although I work for the Health Department in the lead program, I am making these comments on my own. These comments do not represent a statement by the Richmond City Health District, or any other part of the Virginia Department of Health
Let me start by stressing the importance of regulations like these that protect Virginians, especially young Virginians, from the dangers of lead poisoning. The individual impacts of lead poisoning remain serious. Even lead poisoning levels that are below the current “reference value” (5 ug/dl) will cause decreased academic achievement, including lower IQ, increased attention disorders, and increased antisocial behaviors. The social and economic costs of this lead poisoning are huge.
In general, the proposed regulations are excellent. They show the solid work of the Board and staff in putting them together as well as a good understanding of all of the steps that need to happen to make this project a success.
I have a few specific comments/questions:
18VAC15-50-40, paragraph 3: We should add a clear requirement that the person claiming the exemption keeps a copy of the test results.
In general your regulations for training programs and testing of students seem broad enough to allow the Board to push for improvements where needed. I would suggest considering a “bad actor” provision in which a trainer or training program who has multiple violations is subject to a higher standard of conduct.
The record-keeping requirements of section 18VAC15-50-320 seem sufficient. I would like to add major addition. I want to suggest that the Board become the repository of all material that proves a dwelling unit is lead free. The language could be: “In addition to the record-keeping requirements of 40 CFR 745, all reports prepared by a certified inspector or certified risk assessor (certified pursuant to either Federal regulations at §745.226 or an EPA-authorized State or Tribal certification program) that find an entire dwelling unit to be lead free shall be electronically submitted to the Board. The Board shall maintain a publicly accessible listing, by address, of all such reports filed. Such properties shall be permanently exempted from the provisions of this section.” This language would ensure that property owners will not be wasting time or money inspecting dwellings that are lead-free.
Finally, I would urge the Board to take the next step in the process as seriously as they have taken the development of these regulations. The education of contractors will be critical to the success of this effort. Realizing the importance of this next phase, I am open to helping in whatever ways the Board suggests.