Welcome to the Regulated Community Compliance Project!

The Regulated Community Compliance Project (RCCP) focuses on the relationship between government and the regulated community. The RCCP was created by Richard Reibstein and Cutler Cleveland in 2004, and has produced work on lead paint regulations and their reception. With funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency it has provided training for over 3,000 real estate professionals on the disclosure rule and related regulations.

 Use of New Lead Poisoning Prevention Law

In 2010 a new regulation went into effect requiring that when paint is disturbed in pre-1978 housing or “child-occupied facilities”, that it be done in manner termed “lead-safe”.  This regulation [1], many years in the making, can help prevent incidents of lead poisoning, many of which are caused by the generation and dispersion of lead-contaminated dusts while preparing or removing painted surfaces containing lead paint.  Because it is hard to know without testing if a surface contains lead, once commonly used in paint, the regulation employs a presumption that lead is present, unless testing proves that it is not.

In 2013, students at Boston University, mindful of the potentially tragic consequences of lead poisoning, sent questions concerning the rule to governors and agencies responsible for health and schools in each state.  The mechanism created by Congress gave each state the option of adopting the rule, but even if a state does not choose to administer the rule on its own, it may choose to cooperate with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or take actions to educate the public about its existence.  It is expected that simply telling people about the rule would have a preventive effect.  Those covered by the rule might adopt lead-safe practices because they become educated, or to avoid liabilities.  Informing potentially affected residents of their rights to live in lead-safe environments would increase demand for contractors who do not leave poisonous residue behind.  Do-it-yourselfers would be less likely to repaint or renovate their homes in an unsafe manner.  An important consideration relating to the law, pertinent to current concerns about regulatory burden, is that the costs of compliance are consistent with good practice.  The rule requires that dusts be contained and workplaces be left clean, conditions that customers might expect of any responsible contractor.

What the students found was that there is tremendous variability among the states.  Some have ”taken delegation” of the law (enabling them to enforce it) and have engaged in significant educational and inspectional activities.  Some responses indicated concern for regulatory burden on businesses, rather than the prevention of lead poisoning.  Some failed to respond, even though letters were sent to governors as well as health and schools agencies, and repeated attempts were made to ensure that states knew a compilation of responses would be made public.

To view the responses to the 2013 survey, click here:

In 2014, considering this variety of commitments from state governments, a new set of BU students decided that issuing a summary report containing their own judgments of the adequacy of state responses was fraught with difficulties.  They asked what they could do to generate greater attention to the potential for an adequate response, protective of the public health, preventive of unnecessary poisonings, without injecting into the discussion the matter of their own subjective opinions?  This is a question that pertains to many areas of policy research.

The students decided to conduct a survey of lead policy experts concerning their opinions.  Each student identified experts throughout the country, and asked them a series of questions about what a good state program should be.  Some of the questions asked repeated the questions asked of states the year before, and some went beyond.  The results of this work have been published here on the BU Regulated Community Compliance Project website.

To view results of the 2014 survey, click here:

Finally, the students then took the rankings of the experts of the importance of program components that had been included in the original queries made to states, and used them to produce comparative weightings of the responses of the states.  A graphic presentation of the results of this, showing which states told us they are implementing these features, judged most important by experts, is here.

This research has produced two important results. One is a readily understandable summary of what experts consider to be key actions that states should be taking to make use of the new lead poisoning prevention law, to protect children and others from the very serious impacts of exposure to lead dusts.  The survey of experts shows that experts feel that states should be taking steps to inform both the regulated and the potentially affected communities about the Renovation rule, states should use enforcement, and states should have the information they need about lead poisoning rates. The other important result is the finding that there is very wide variability concerning state implementation of these actions. We hope that this research will be of some use in the shaping of policy to reduce unnecessary exposures to lead dusts, as the Renovation law intends.

 


[1] The Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (the RRP or the Renovation Rule); 40 CFR Part 745, Subpart E (Residential Property Renovation, (§§ 745.80 – 745.92)).

 

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If you have a question that the RCCP can answer, call: (617) 358-3366 or write: rreibste@bu.edu. For further information on federal lead laws please see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s webpage.