Lead Paint WARNING
Time to Prepare for Big Changes
by Tara Taffera
Jim Lett, owner of Abe Windows and Doors in Allentown, Pa.,
has a big problem facing his business. The bright spot is that he knows
a big industry change is coming and at least he can try to prepare for
it. Unfortunately, the thousands of door and window dealers across the
country are facing the same dilemma as Lett and many don’t even know it.
“I was completely unaware of the lead abatement issue until a week ago,”
says David Steele, president of the Window Gallery. “I heard a discussion
about it and it caught me totally off guard.”
What many other dealers like Steele don’t know is that according to a
the December 2008 Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right, EPA’s
Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program that contractors
(including those who replace windows) who disturb painted surfaces in
pre-1978 homes are required to be certified before these regulations become
effective in 2010?
So what if dealers don’t comply? Not a big deal, right? Actually, the
fine for non-compliance is $32,500 per violation, per day.
Now this issue facing dealers across the country at first wasn’t as big
of a problem as when this rule came out more than a year ago. Here’s what
changed. After some pressure from industry groups, the EPA decided to
propose a rule that would remove the opt-out clause. So, before homeowners
who didn’t have a child under six living in the home, or a pregnant women
could opt-out of the lead paint requirements.
“By the EPA’s own estimate,
the proposedelimination of the opt-out rule is expected to cost approximately
$500 million in the first year alone.”
—Window and Door Manufacturers Association
“If they didn’t get rid of the opt–out, it wouldn’t be as much of an issue,”
says Lett. “But to remove it is horrible for a company my size. We’re
estimating 35 to 40 percent additional labor costs.”
That’s what has Lett, and other dealers so distraught and worried about
the devastating impact this can have on their businesses.
Removing the Opt-Out
On October 28, 2009, the EPA proposed a few revisions to the RRP. One
is to eliminate the “opt-out” provision that currently exempts a renovation
firm from the training and work practice requirements of the rule where
the firm obtains a certification from the owner of a residence he or she
occupies that no child under age six nor pregnant women resides in the
home and the home is not a child-occupied facility.
In an EPA press release dated October 22, Steve Owens, assistant administrator
for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, said the
proposed rule will further increase protections for children and their
families from lead-based paint hazards associated with home renovation
and repair. In the press release, the EPA said it will take comment on
the proposal for 30 days and expects to finalize the rule by April 2010.
Comments were due on November 27, and the Window and Door Manufacturers
Association (WDMA) was one group that weighed in on behalf of its membership.
“WDMA is opposed to this proposal for a variety of reasons. For one, removing
the opt-out provision is a complete reversal of EPA’s determination to
include it in the final rule and their reason for doing so,” says Jeff
Inks, vice president, codes and regulatory affairs for the WDMA.
By some WDMA members estimates, the added cost of complying with the rule
on a window replacement project is approximately $60 per window opening.
“By the EPA’s own estimate, the proposed elimination of the opt-out rule
is expected to cost approximately $500 million in the first year alone,
which is burdensome on an industry and consumers that are already suffering
from the effects of a severe economic recession,” according to the WDMA’s
comments to the EPA.
In addition, Inks says the EPA going back on its original decision would
be particularly exasperating because it was “clearly reasoned and substantiated
by EPA … and that … “EPA has provided no new relevant data, information
or analysis establishing the need or justification for this complete reversal
in its original determination and significant expansion in the scope of
Another thing the EPA is considering is possibly delaying the effective
date of the rule. The WDMA firmly supports the delay for two main reasons.
First is the concern is that there won’t be enough certified renovators
by April, according to Inks.
According to Inks, EPA estimated that approximately 190,000 certified
renovators would be needed and only approximately 4,000 to 4,500 have
been certified to date.
“Should we consider extending this? Absolutely,” he says.
Another reason relates to the availability of test kits to test for the
presence of lead.
“Cost-effective, reliable pre- and post-test kits must be widely available
before a rule like this comes into play,” says Inks, who
adds that this isn’t currently the case.
“We saw this coming and
we’re trying to be proactive and get metal products that contain
lead out of our windows as soon as possible.”
—Ken Barman, ViWinTech
What the Window Industry is Doing
Many door and window companies, including manufactures and suppliers,
are doing what they can to inform their customers of what’s coming so
they can be prepared. For example, Chelsea Building Products sent an e-mail
to all of its window fabricators to inform them of the proposed rule and
encouraged them to comment, and also provided them with a copy of the
“Communicating this information to your customers and mounting a grassroots
campaign to get this modified is important to our industry and I encourage
you to act immediately by commenting and forwarding to your replacement
window dealers and contractors,” said Terry Abels, vice president of sales
and marketing, in the e-mail.
Wayne Gorell, president of Gorell Industries, says this rule will have
a huge impact on the window replacement industry.
“As I see it this could virtually eliminate small window jobs of fewer
than seven or so units, to allow the additional cost to not make the selling
price prohibitive to the homeowner,” he says. “In an economy where credit
is still almost non-existent, this will have a devastating impact to dealers’
ability to make sales.”
Lett agrees, pointing out that for large remodeling companies the rule
will not have as much of an impact, but for smaller companies like his,
it “is a huge issue.”
“It will kill the small jobs,” he says.
But even though this will have such a profound impact on window dealers
many are unaware these rules are even coming.
“The contractors I talk to aren’t even aware of it,” says Lett. “They
don’t even know they were supposed to be passing out these pamphlets for
years. They take a cavalier attitude. They are trying to skirt the law
… They don’t think it applies to windows.”
Manufacturers such as Gorell have notified its dealers through written
correspondence and by word-of-mouth from its sales managers.
Ken Barman, director of sales and marketing for ViWinTech Windows &
Doors, says the company has been working to get the information out through
its sales staff.
“The industry is not well-informed about this,” he says.
“Everyone needs to make people aware.”
Barman heard bits and pieces about the RRP in early 2009 and didn’t think
much of it until he heard more about it. Barman has been working to become
more educated as dealers will be looking to their manufacturers to answer
questions. He did report that some of his customers’ customers have been
At window manufacturer BF Rich, Van Sias, territory manager, completed
the training with the goal of becoming educated so he in turn can provide
information to the dealers. Like other manufacturers, BF Rich has notified
dealers through e-mail newsletters, face-to-face conversations and other
means. A few dealers have taken the training, but Sias agrees that many
are unaware that the rules are even coming.
“The ones who are aware are taking it seriously,” he says. “Some people
just don’t know.”
At Lawrence Industries, a supplier of lead-free composite locks, employees
have completed the RRP/EPA training, so they will be able to answer questions
their window manufacturer customers may have.
“We tell the window manufacturers to take this class,” says Brandon Lawrence,
vice president of marketing. “Because you’re going to get questions and
inquiries from dealers so you have to be the expert. That’s why we took
“The contractors I talk
to aren’t even aware of it. They don’t even know they were supposed to
be passing out these pamphlets for years. They take a cavalier attitude.
They are trying to skirt the law …
They don’t think it applies to windows.”
—Jim Lett, owner, Abe Windows and Doors
Differences of Opinion
Just as some dealers take a laissez faire attitude, while dealers
such as Abe Windows and Doors have all their staff trained, differences
of opinion occur in other areas as well.
“You hear the word lead and a lot of people get nervous,” says Sias. “We
wanted to be fully prepared to tell dealers what would be required of
them. It’s not lead abatement, which seems scary. It’s just taking precautions—working
He admits that it will involve more labor and a little more materials
but “it won’t be extravagant. As long as the certified renovator trained
the crew, he just has to be there for tear down and set up.”
But, according to Lett, when one person takes the class and then trains
an employee, and then that employee trains another employee, and so on,
information can get lost in translation.
“Technically only one person has to be certified,” says Lett. “If you
only have one person you don’t recall everything. If you have everyone
trained, two, three or even four heads are better than one. For example,
you teach me, and you forget a few things.”
He adds that employees who take the class take this issue more seriously.
That’s why at his company 15 people have been trained as of January 2009.
Lett adds that while training is a good idea, instructors in the certified
renovator courses convey the information differently and sometimes send
“One said the procedures were more commonsense [while] another gave specifics,”
says Lett. “What are you supposed to do? If it’s open to interpretation,
it’s very confusing for the dealer. If you go to a class and the instructor
says you don’t have to put plastic down and mine tells me I do, we both
think we are following the law and my competitor is doing it with way
There are also differences of opinion as to exactly how many jobs this
“The main thing dealers have to realize is it’s for homes before 1978,”
says Sias. He believes this will be a big issue mainly for homes built
Lett believes this will affect most of the projects he works on.
“I’m all for protecting my employees, my customer, the environment, etc.
But to put in replacement windows you’re not doing a whole lot of cutting,
etc. You’re not out there with saws, etc.,” he says.
One area on which many in the increase in lawsuits that undoubtedly will
“I’ve never heard a claim that anyone has ever been injured by lead paint
during window replacements, but we will certainly be
seeing claims in the future,” says Gorell.
Lett says he can hear the ads now. “Do you have a home built before 1978?
Do you have a child under the age of 6 residing in your home? …”
Lett also wonders if the EPA took under consideration some of the environmental
effects that the procedures bring along with it. For example, Lett says
window contractors have to put down 6-mil plastic for 250 square feet
per opening and on the second floor you must go 20 feet out with the plastic.
“Has anyone given any thought to where all that plastic is going to go?”
“I’ve never heard a claim
that anyone has ever been injured by
lead paint during window replacements, but we will certainly be seeing
claims in the future.”
—Wayne Gorell, president, Gorell Windows and Doors
The Lead Facts You Need to Know
The Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program (RRP) applies
to residential houses, apartments and child-occupied facilities such as
schools and daycare centers built before 1978. It includes pre-renovation
education requirements as well as training, certification and work practice
requirements. According to the RRP it applies to “anyone who is paid to
perform work that disturbs paint.”
“Renovation is broadly defined as any activity that disturbs painted surfaces
and includes most repair, remodeling and maintenance activities, including
window replacement,” according to the RPP.
The program excludes the following:
• Housing for elderly persons, unless children under six reside or are
expected to reside there;
• Zero-bedroom dwellings;
• Housing or components declared lead-free by a certified inspector or
risk assessor; and
• Minor repair and maintenance activities that disturb six square feet
or less of paint per room inside, or 20 square feet or less on the exterior.
According to the RRP, “Minor repair and maintenance activities do not
include window replacement and projects involving demolition or prohibited
Rules at a Glance
Beginning April 22, 2010, the following rules apply:
• Firms must be certified;
• Renovators must be trained;
• Lead-safe work practices must be followed. Examples of these practices
• Work area containment to prevent dust and debris from leaving the work
• Thorough cleanup followed by a certification procedure to minimize exposure
to lead-based paint hazards.
Responsibilities of a Certified Firm
Firms performing renovations must ensure that:
1. All individuals performing activities that disturb painted surfaces
on behalf of the firm are either certified renovators or have been trained
by a certified renovator;
2. A certified renovator is assigned to each renovation and performs all
of the certified renovator responsibilities;
3. All renovations performed by the firm are performed in accordance with
the work practice standards of the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair
and Painting Program;
4. Pre-renovation education requirements of the Lead-Based Paint Renovation,
Repair and Painting Program are performed;
5. The program’s recordkeeping requirements are met.
Responsibilities of a Certified Renovator
To become a certified renovator an individual must successfully complete
an eight-hour initial renovator training course offered by an accredited
training provider (training providers are accredited by EPA, or by an
authorized state or tribal program). The course completion certificate
serves as proof of certification.
According to the RRP, certified renovators are responsible for ensuring
overall compliance with the RRP’s requirements for lead-safe work practices
at renovations they are assigned. A certified renovator must do the following:
1. Use a test kit acceptable to EPA, when requested by the party contracting
for renovation services, to determine whether components to be affected
by the renovation contain lead-based paint (EPA will announce which test
kits are acceptable prior to April 2010 at www.epa.gov/lead);
2. Provide on-the-job training to workers on the work practices they will
be using in performing their assigned tasks;
3. Be physically present at the work site when warning signs are posted,
while the work-area containment is being established, and while the work-area
cleaning is performed;
4. Regularly direct work being performed by other individuals to ensure
that the work practices are being followed, including maintaining the
integrity of the containment barriers and ensuring that dust or debris
does not spread beyond the work area;
5. Be available, either on-site or by telephone, at all times while the
renovations are being conducted;
6. Perform project cleaning verification;
7. Have with them at the work site copies of their initial course completion
certificate and their most recent refresher course completion certificate;
8. Prepare required records.
In addition, all documents must be retained for three years following
the completion of a renovation. Records that must be retained include:
• Reports certifying that lead-based paint is not present;
• Records relating to the distribution of the lead pamphlet; and
• Any signed and dated statements received from owner-occupants documenting
that the requirements do not apply (i.e., there are neither any children
under age six nor pregnant women residing at the home, and it is not a
child-occupied facility); and
• Documentation of compliance with the requirements of the Lead-Based
Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Program.
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