Accepts Petition to Strengthen Lead Dust Standards
The Environmental Protection Agency announced on October
22 that it will propose to modify the regulatory hazard standard for lead in
residential dust and paint so that it is based on the most recent science. This
announcement came in conjunction with the National
Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and marks a big win for the Alliance, the National
Center for Healthy Housing, and several other advocacy groups who petitioned
the EPA in August to strengthen dust standards for lead, making
the point that current standards are outdated. Additionally, EPA announced that
it will work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to propose
to modify the regulatory definition of lead-based paint.
The petition requested EPA to lower the standard for lead
in dust to 10 µg/ft2 on floors and 100 µg/ft2 on interior windowsills,
and additionally requested that EPA revise the lead-based paint definition to
0.06% by weight (600 PPM). In accepting the petition, however, EPA did not commit
to lower the standards to a particular number or establish a time frame for
issuing a proposal. In the past, EPA has accepted some petitions but failed
to follow-up in a timely fashion, meaning advocates will need to continue to
monitor the agency and ensure a timely follow through with taking the promised
Issues Proposed Changes to RRP as a Result of Settlement
Last week, the US EPA announced its proposal
to make several changes to its Renovation, Repair, and Painting
(RRP) rule, seeking public comment by November 27. Many of the changes proposed
by the EPA are a result of a legal settlement with a number of environmental
and public health advocates (discussed in the August
Alert), however the EPA also added several proposals of
its own, including a request for comments on delaying the effective date of
the rule. Under the settlement, EPA will be proposing
additional changes to the rule in the coming months. It is essential that healthy
homes advocates provide feedback to the US EPA on the rule, supporting the positive
suggestions and arguing strongly against delaying the effective date.
As required by the settlement agreement, EPA is proposing
to eliminate the “owner-occupied opt-out” provision of the rule.
Under the opt-out, owners who live in the home and who do not have children
or pregnant women residing in the home, may allow their contractors to ignore
the lead safety requirements of the rule. Removing this opt-out was a major
goal for lead poisoning prevention advocates who noted that it ran contrary
to the Congressional directive, failed to protect neighbors (such as during
exterior work), could poison children who visit or move into the home shortly
after the renovation, allowed contractors to get “out of practice”
on the use of lead safe work practices, and provided easy opportunities for
the rule to be abused. While EPA is proposing the removal of the provision,
they encourage comments on alternative approaches, such as only regulating the
exterior work or requiring dust sampling after exempted work (to document any
hazards to go on the “record” at time of sale or lease). The Alliance
urges complete elimination of the opt-out provision.
EPA is also fulfilling the settlement agreement by proposing
to require contractors to provide a post-renovation notification to owners and
occupants of the property. Under the current rule, renovation contractors are
required to document and keep in their files a number of records and certifications
as to how they performed the work and ensured they cleaned properly to comply
with the rule. This proposal would essentially require renovators to give a
copy of most of this documentation to the owners and occupants of the property
as well. As a result, owners and occupants will better understand what occurred
and what hazards may remain following the renovation.
In addition to the settlement requirements, EPA requested
comments on a handful of additional possible changes to the rule. Noting that
many renovators may delay getting trained until as close to the effective date
of the rule as possible to get maximum value out of the five year certification
period, EPA proposed extending all renovator certifications issued prior to
April 22, 2010, to July 1, 2015, to eliminate any potential advantage of delaying.
Additionally, hearing feedback from many potential trainers that obtaining 16
hours of accredited lead-specific training for the principal instructor was
a barrier, EPA is proposing to reduce that requirement to eight hours. EPA also
proposed allowing states who accept delegation of the rule a one year period
to update their requirements should EPA make changes to the rule (such as through
this proposal) before being deemed less-stringent than the federal program and
therefore at risk of losing delegation.
In a decidedly negative move, EPA also requested comments
on whether or not it should delay the implementation date of the rule for six
months or a year. Although the notice strongly implies EPA is leaning against
such an extension, noting that they are only asking for comment, not proposing
it and that they believe they will be ready to enforce the rule under the current
implementation timeline, the notice opens the door for industry groups and others
to pressure the EPA to delay the rule. Further delay will only prolong the implementation
process and result in more children and families exposed to unsafe renovation
Finally, EPA requested suggestions on how it could more
accurately measure the benefits of the RRP rule. In the economic analysis, EPA
relied on measuring only the benefits from avoided IQ loss amongst young children,
rather than the wider range of effects lead has on children and adults.
EPA will make a final decision on all of these proposals
prior to the RRP effective date of April 22, 2010.
In the coming weeks, the Alliance and other advocates
will be submitting comments on the proposal. We encourage other advocates to
join us. Watch LeadNet
for more details, or contact Jane Malone at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information.
Is First State to Receive Delegation of EPA’s RRP Rule
This month, Wisconsin became the first state to officially
receive delegation of EPA's Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule. Wisconsin
exercised the state-certification option, meaning their governor certified that
their program is at least as protective as the federal rule. Under this option,
a state becomes authorized to administer the program while EPA reviews their
application. Should the EPA unexpectedly discover problems, they could disapprove
the state at a later date and retake authority.
The Alliance firmly supports efforts of states to accept
delegation of the program and to implement strong local enforcement. As such,
we congratulate Wisconsin for achieving this milestone, and look forward to
more states joining in soon!
Healthy Housing Council Bill Introduced in the House
Representative Robert Brady (D-PA) has introduced The
Healthy Housing Council Act of 2009, HR 3793. The bill has been
referred to the House Committee on Financial Services and Agriculture as well
as the Committee on Energy and Commerce. This bill
is the House version of S. 1658, introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Mike
Johanns (R-NE), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Al Franken (D-MN).
The Council on Healthy Housing would have two objectives:
encouraging healthy housing through capacity building, technical assistance,
public policy, and education; and facilitating coordination and collaboration
between federal agencies. The Council's focus would be on improving the impact
and eliminating duplication in existing programs, targeting current and future
resources to the most vulnerable, high-risk persons and communities, and ensuring
household access to existing programs. The Council would also identify policy,
program, and research deficits as well as best practices for addressing healthy
Congress continues to debate the budget for the 2010 fiscal
year, which began October 1. As discussed in the May
2009 Alert, the President’s budget requested an
additional one million dollars for EPA’s state lead grant program. This
line item, in addition to supporting states that have accepted delegation of
the abatement program, will also be supporting states that take over the RRP
rule. Despite the great need for this additional funding, the House denied the
request, and approved level funding for the grant
program. The Senate included the full administration request.
The Alliance and the National
Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition, worked to encourage the Conference
committee to include the extra million dollars as requested by the administration
and approved by the Senate. The conferees agreed, and the Interior/Environment
appropriations bill was passed by the House on October 29. As this appropriations
bill includes the continuing resolution necessary to avoid a Federal Government
shutdown on November 1, the bill is widely expected to pass the Senate in the
next two days.
Although the Transportation/HUD appropriations bill has
not yet passed, both the Senate and the House committees level-funded HUD’s
lead and healthy homes grant programs at $140 million, despite calls from advocates
and a “Dear Colleague” campaign from Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and
Olympia Snowe (R-ME) calling for an increase to $225 million. The appropriations
committees did, however, accept the administration proposal to increase the
portion devoted to the Healthy Homes Initiative to $20 million.
The Alliance will continue to advocate for expansions of
these and other healthy homes programs in the 2011 budgets.
Agencies Release Preliminary Findings on Chinese Drywall
The governmental agencies charged with responding to the
odiferous and corrosive Chinese drywall problem (reported on in the April
Alerts) issued some preliminary findings of their investigations earlier this
week. The agencies, which include CPSC, EPA, HUD, CDC and ATSDR, noted that
comparisons between some samples of imported Chinese drywall and non-imported
drywall found the imports to have higher levels of sulfur and strontium, but
that the strontium was not posing a radiological hazard. Laboratory testing
also showed that the Chinese drywall emits “volatile sulfur compounds”
at a higher rate than the non-imported variety. However, in the limited field
tests performed, the agencies were unable to identify
elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, carbon disulfide or carbonyl sulfide, gases
that some suggested may have been the source of corrosion and lung irritation.
Interestingly, the report noted increased levels of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde,
known irritants and carcinogens, but did not believe them to be associated with
the drywall, but rather with other building components.
The agencies report further testing and analysis is both
necessary and underway. More information, including copies of the full reports
released to date, are available on the CPSC
Seeks to Disclose Hazardous Pesticide “Inert” Ingredients
On September 30, EPA responded to two petitions (one
by Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, and a second
by certain State Attorneys General), that identified over 350 so-called
inert pesticide ingredients as hazardous. The petitioners asked EPA to require
these inert ingredients be identified on the labels of products that include
them in their formulations. EPA announced that the
agency is moving forward with a plan to require disclosure of the identities
of all inert ingredients in pesticides including those that are potentially
This increased transparency will assist consumers and users
of pesticides in making informed decisions and will better protect public health
and the environment. Pesticide manufacturers typically disclose their inert
ingredients only to EPA. Currently, EPA evaluates the safety of all active and
inert ingredients in a product's formulation when determining whether the pesticide
should be registered.
The Agency anticipates publishing its proposed rulemaking
in the Federal Register within the next few months. In it, EPA will discuss
ideas for greater disclosure of inert ingredient identities, including inerts
associated with various hazards, as well as inerts in general. EPA believes
one way of discouraging the use of the more hazardous inert ingredients in pesticide
formulations is by making their identities public. In addition to pursuing regulatory
action for inert disclosure, EPA is considering encouraging voluntary initiatives
to achieve this broader disclosure.
On October 22, the Detroit City Council passed an amendment
to the Property Maintenance section of the Detroit City Code that will require
landlords to have their properties inspected for lead hazards and cleaned up
before a certificate of compliance, required to rent
a property, is issued to the property owner (Chapter 9, Article 1, of the 1984
Detroit City Code). Currently, inspections only occur after proof that a child
has been poisoned.
The amendment is a huge step forward for lead poisoning
prevention advocates, who recognize that waiting until a child is poisoned before
fixing a hazard is like placing a canary in the coal mine to warn miners of
hazardous gasses. If landlords are held responsible for keeping their properties
in compliance before tenants move in, it follows that a lot fewer children will
be exposed to dangerous levels of lead.
The amendment now makes Detroit one of the more protective
cities for lead poisoning prevention laws, as it affects all rental properties
in the city.
Lead Poisoning Prevention Week
As was declared by Senate
Resolution 199, National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week was held
October 18-24, sparking a number of events intended to raise awareness about
lead poisoning and educate families in the ways to reduce exposure to lead.
CDC, EPA and HUD produced materials
for the week as well as launched a YouTube video contest designed to “educate
the public about lead poisoning prevention and the danger of lead exposure in
a 30 to 60 second video.” Results of the contest were announced
at the National Environmental Public Health conference in Atlanta.
EPA Guidelines for Cleaning up Meth Houses
In August 2009 the EPA released guidelines for remediating
former methamphetamine labs. The Voluntary
Guidelines for Methamphetamine Laboratory Cleanup provides technical
guidance for state and local personnel responsible for methamphetamine lab cleanup.
The Guidelines are based on an extensive review of the best available science
and practices and addresses general cleanup activities, identifies best practices
for specific items or materials, discusses sampling procedures, and provides
additional technical resources.
Releases Recent Consumer Survey
The National Center for Healthy
Housing recently surveyed adults (aged 18 and older) to gauge their level of
awareness of the common health and safety hazards found in many homes. The results
reveal that although most people realize serious health problems may result
from the way their homes are built and maintained, they have not taken action
to create a healthy and safe home environment for themselves and their loved
Over two thirds of respondents said they had one or more
major health risks in their home, including: 29% who do not have a carbon monoxide
alarm; 19% who permit smoking in the home; 17% who had water leaks present in
the past nine months; 15% who reported pesticide use in the home, presence of
mold or mildew or presence of pests such as mice or roaches in the past three
months; and 11 % who reported that their home was built before 1978 and the
paint is peeling.
The survey results highlighted the need for additional
efforts to help ensure Americans have healthy home environments.
Health Impact Project Call for Proposals
Impact Project call for proposals (CFP) is seeking applicants to
undertake health impact assessment (HIA) demonstration
projects. An informational web conference will be held November 5, 2009, however
registration has reached capacity and therefore the conference will be recorded
and archived on the above Web page for those interested after November 5.
HIAs bring together relevant public input, available data
and a range of qualitative and quantitative methods to anticipate the potential
health consequences of a proposed policy, program or project. They are a structured
yet flexible process for developing practical recommendations that decision
makers can use to advance well-informed public policies, programs and projects
that avoid unintended health consequences and unexpected costs. Learn
more about HIAs here.
Applicants need not have experience with HIAs to apply
to the CFP. Rather, they should have knowledge of the decision-making process
that they aim to influence and the ability to communicate effectively with all
of the players in that process, from elected officials to their citizens. Grantees
will receive training, mentoring and technical assistance from the Health Impact
Project and leading HIA experts. The application process is described at http://www.healthimpactproject.org/call.
The Alliance is proud to announce that we have substantially
updated our website! Although the design of our site is the same, we
hope structural changes will make it easier for people to navigate the wealth
of information available, from information about specific hazards to what you
can do eliminate hazards in your home and community. Check out the updated site
The Alliance is also proud to be featured in the RWJF Commission
of Prevention and Wellness Resources. This searchable database
is intended as a resource for those interested in the connections between health
and where we live, learn, work and play. It includes some of the foremost experts
in the field, links to download research and other reports, and background on
organizations – from small, local non-profits to large federal interagency
partnerships – that are working to uncover solutions to improve health.
The Alliance is now accredited by the US EPA to offer
initial dust sampling technician classes in addition to initial and refresher
renovator classes nationwide (except Wisconsin).
* * * * *
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Thank you for your support!
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The American Public Health Association
will be holding its Annual Meeting, November 7-11, 2009 in Philadelphia, PA.
The theme this year is “Water and Public Health: the 21st Century Challenge.”
The conference will explore the latest public health challenges and learn about
what can be done to protect our resources, our health and our world.
For more information
or to register, visit the APHA website.
The US EPA and HUD will be offering several free four-hour
webinars, focusing on how to become a training provider under the new Renovation,
Remodeling and Painting Rule. Dates of the webinar include: October 30, November
13, December 10 and December 18, 2009 at 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. ET. Each of the offerings
will have the same content, with time at the end for Q&A. To register, please
go to: http://hud-lead-trainthetrainer.webex.com.
The Alliance continues to hold “Train the Trainer”
courses throughout the country in order to help prepare organizations to become
accredited trainers under EPA’s rule. The next training will be held December
14-15 in Cranston, Rhode Island in partnership with the Childhood
Lead Action Project. Additionally, there is a training scheduled
in partnership with the NeighborWorks Training Institute in New Orleans March
1-2. Check the Alliance’s
training page for updated information.
“Lead and Beyond: Progress in Eliminating Lead Poisoning
and New Opportunities for Collaboration in New Jersey” will be held at
the Sheraton Edison Hotel, Raritan Center, 125 Raritan Center Parkway, Edison,
NJ on April 16, 2010. The conference is sponsored by the New Jersey Interagency
Task Force on the Prevention of Lead Poisoning and the Governor's Council on
the Prevention of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. The deadline
to register is April 2, 2010.