July 1, 2010

Public Interest Comment on Lead Clearance and Clearance Testing Requirements

  • Jerry Ellig

    Research Professor, George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center
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The EPA recently proposed a regulation that requires dust wipe testing for lead dust generated by renovations covered by its 2008 Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program rule. Except for a small number of specified situations, the proposed rule requires that the results of the dust wipe test be furnished to building owners. For certain jobs that involve demolition, destruction, or use of high-speed equipment such as power sanders, the regulation requires the renovator to demonstrate through dust wipe testing that dust-lead residues are below the levels permitted by regulation. The proposed rule covers most pre-1978 housing and "child-occupied facilities," such as schools and daycare centers. This comment focuses on the proposed rule as it applies to residential housing.

The EPA’s Economic Analysis estimates that the dust wipe testing provision accounts for 96 percent of the regulated events covered by the proposed rule, 94 percent of the costs created by the proposed rule, and 98 percent of the individuals affected by the proposed rule. Understanding the likely effects of the dust wipe testing provision is thus critical to understanding whether this proposed rule will accomplish its intended purpose of protecting individuals from lead exposure. Unfortunately, the agency merely speculates about two types of benefits the regulation might produce: (1) it provides information about lead exposure that building owners and occupants could use to make decisions about additional cleaning, and (2) the information may motivate renovators and building owners to change their behavior over time, leading to greater use of lead-safe renovation practices.