The Great EPA Monkey War of 2010


Lead rules, aargh. Were ignorant, Were confused, we shall overcome. Save us!

EPA Gorilla
EPA Gorilla

So what’s the future bringing?

April 2010, the new lead rules. At the worst we got government doing their usual crazy antics. A new law to protect people from the harmful effects of lead. Should we protect the nations health? Yes! Will this be confusing? It already is.

At best we ease into the new rulings, at worst lead rules put the brakes on remodeling recovery and convince many contractors to devise ways to work around the rulings. Homeowners who are not concerned, and I have met some, will feel good about breaking the law to save money and they get to “Stick it to the Man” at the same time.

I gotta do what?

What about contractors?

I heard some contractors say they will ignore the lead rule because its clueless to the reality of how remodeling work is done. Others may change their business model and target newer homes built after 1978, or they will specialize in areas where there is little chance of needing to do lead control. I heard other contractors brag they will use this to gain market share and grow their business. No good answers here, I believe all contractors will adapt as these rules get revised. But how?

How Much?
How Much?

What about homeowners?

“Here is your lead pamphlet Mr Wilson, inside is why and how we will do your window replacement. How much will this cost? We just added 20% to your bill to keep you safe. What’s that Mr Wilson? Did you just say Go to Hell”? Small contractors will adapt quicker than the larger companies and I doubt if anyone will gain market share by turning the EPA lemons into lemonade. We will need to find a way to satisfy homeowners and the EPA.

How much is what most people will want to know. It could be substantial on some projects. Inner city homes will lose value.We could pretend this is good for everyone but it won’t be, good for health if it works, bad for building because its clearly not well planned.

Lets think, shall we?

We need a plan.

Lets think about voicing some concerns for a viable solution without the business community or the proponents of this plan coming to blows. Lets get smart as a group. We have until April to work together to come up with a proposal that may bring some common sense to this future debacle. To date we have only vague references that scare people into compliance. Most contractors are small one man shops, like it or not these are the builders who work on most homes. Getting compliance from them will be impossible and homeowners will in a large part decide to circumvent this lead ruling to save money.

Here’s some links from a friend who found articles addressing the EPA Lead Rule

First is from the National Association of Realtors

From the Small Business Administration

From the Center for Healthy Housing  Lead Studies

Here is the EPA Contractor Compliance Guide Link  Compliance Guide

Here is the EPA link

There’s more, some people I talked to think this lead rule will get thrown out and never get implemented, if that happens the contractor proponents will seem foolish, if it goes through the supporters will be unpopular. I think we should do better control and containment, but at a reasonable expense, you won’t get a lot of homeowner support if this turns out to be overkill.

This is a lot to read, but try those links and see where you end up on this unfolding event.

Article by Paul Lesieur/ Silvertree Construction

Links provided by Chris Wright/ Wrightworks


  1. Back when the new pamphlet came out, it showed three simple steps to be done & as I wrote in my blog at the time “The three basic tenants of Lead Safety practices are to contain the work area, minimize dust & clean thoroughly. At SLS Construction those 3 principles are adhered to no matter what the age of the building is or the size of the project. After April 2010 or per a Homeowners request, the EPA is recommending that a Lead Dust Test be completed.”

    It is amazing how much they have changed those 3 simple steps into a full blown “asbestos” style containment system. As it was originally described by them, it should have only run about $35 a job which was probably pretty close. Now it appears that it will add anywhere from $200 and up depending on the job.

    The worst jump will occur to those that install or work on windows and door (which the government is promoting for energy savings) – they will either have to do all their work from outside with the inside opening fully taped up, or setup a full containment area’s inside & outside for each window and door. This right there can easily double or triple the labor hours for each window replaced.

    The other issue waiting to rear it’s ugly head is the testing. Back when this first came out – they were still working on the Lead Dust Test. Now it is to use a Swifter & compare it to a picture to see if everything is clean enough. While this might seem to be a joke, it at least made sure that you did clean up the area and removed all the dust. That isn’t good enough for certain groups which are pushing for third party testing to make sure no lead dust is anywhere in the area’s worked on including the carpets that were covered.

    If this does keep up, I can see quite a few Homeowner’s going – your kidding me & either not doing the work, or finding someone who will do it on the sly.

    The measure as it stands now truly needs to be scrapped & simple “best practices” drawn up including referencing existing rules & regs from OSHA, DOE, & HUD.

  2. I know one thing for sure.
    If I deal with all the red tape
    and all the classes, and spend money to abide by the rules,
    you better watch out if you don’t.

    Because if I know you (any carpenter/contractor) are not,
    I am going to spill the beans on you.
    Might make you think I am a self-rightous prick but,
    play by the rules or go find some other game to play.

    It is not going to be a free ride no matter what anyone thinks.

  3. So the realotrs are worried they’ll have to pay more than 43 cents on the dollar for repairs and renovations.

    At least they’re on our side…sort of…

    The SBA response if fantastic.

    The Center for Healthy Housing document was an interesting read. I had always assumed much more paint and other finishes contained lead.

    As far as the EPA, here is Chris’ link from another thread that is the only comprehensive document from the EPA explaining what in tarnation is going on:

    There website is nothing more than a tangleweb of mumbo jumbo. Even the application form for companies to become certified renovation firms uses ambiguous language by constantly using the word “should” in regard to things like taking training and certification courses to become a certified lead renovator.


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