In 2014, Boston University students and the RCCP created a survey for lead experts and interested parties to see if a consensus could be discerned concerning what states ought to be doing to make the best use of the opportunity presented by the promulgation of EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule. This rule requires that anyone who is compensated for work that disturbs over minimum amounts of surface area in pre-1978 housing or “child-occupied” facilities must implement lead-safe work practices. The RCCP has been examining how people view, and are using this rule, because full implementation has the potential for significantly reducing lead poisonings.
The 2014 Team: (back row from left to right) Stephanie Henry, Sarah Hill, Sinyee Tan, Madeline Smith, Cassandra Smith, Professor Richard Reibstein, (front row, left to right) Micah Ulrich, Caitlin Furio, and Margaret Wilder. Not pictured: Timothy Caroe and Sean Hughes.
In 2013, the RCCP expanded its scope from real estate professionals and contractors covered by the law to others, assessing their awareness of the new Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule that seeks to prevent the spreading of lead dusts from renovations, repairs and painting. In the Spring of 2013, a team of BU students researched the level of awareness and implementation of a new regulation that requires that anyone compensated for work disturbing paint in pre-1978 child-occupied facilities perform the work in a “lead-safe” manner, (40 CFR Part 745, Subpart E, the “Renovation Rule”). The law is intended to prevent dusts from lead-based paints from being dispersed in a facility, where it can be ingested by children, resulting in lead poisoning.
As the rule is triggered by renovation, repair or painting (“RRP”) operations in schools and daycare facilities with children below six years of age, the team wrote to the chief officials of agencies responsible for education in every state and to the chief officials of health agencies (including Washington, DC), asking for any specific information that will help answer the question of whether people are aware of, respect and follow this rule. The officials were told that the students would include their responses in a compilation that would be made publicly available on the RCCP website. The students also wrote to the governors of each state to inform them of the query and to ask why the state took delegation of the law, or did not. (Delegation means that the state has asked for, qualified for, and received authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement the law instead of the EPA. This includes taking on responsibility for enforcing the law). The students also wrote to EPA regional offices concerning the level of awareness and implementation of the Renovation Rule tribal areas.
Responses were received from forty-three states, Washington DC, and EPA’s tribal programs. Each state agency not responding received follow up inquiries by email and phone. When recipients responded that they were not the appropriate officials, students replied that the referral would be recorded as the response received, and requested that the queries be forwarded to the appropriate official, noting the requirement that the response be received during the semester, while they were available to conduct the research. When time permitted, students did follow up on referrals but were not able to do so in all cases.
The Regulated Community Compliance Project (the RCCP) was established to enhance understanding of protective regulations such as the lead Renovation Rule. It is hoped that this information will provide a picture of whether agencies responsible for health and schools (and/or governors) view the rule as an opportunity: to protect contractors from liability, and to protect children and others from exposure to poisonous lead dusts. The RCCP invites comments on the information provided, including corrections or pertinent additions, but especially relating to the quality of awareness and implementation. The RCCP asks readers to provide suggestions concerning the elements of a high-quality program. The RCCP also asks:
1. is it reasonable to expect that agencies with responsibilities for children’s safety take steps to utilize the opportunities presented by the Renovation Rule, even when they have not received delegation, and even when another agency is more directly responsible?
2. what steps should agencies be taking, or ensuring that others are taking, to maximize protections – for contractors, for those who hire contractors, and for those who may experience exposures that could have been prevented?
Note: the Renovation Rule is distinct from the Lead Abatement Rule. Thirty-nine states have authorization (delegation) to oversee lead abatement, intended to ensure the quality of work specifically for reducing or eliminating lead hazards. As of the time of this research, thirteen states had authorization to oversee the Renovation Rule, which ensures that when work disturbs over a minimum amount of interior or exterior surfaces in residences or child-occupied facilities built before 1978, that it is done safely, and the dusts that may contain lead are presumed to be toxic and must be cleaned up, unless the contractor tests the coating and shows that it does not contain lead. (Maryland responded that it is in the process of requesting authorization).
The 2013 Team: Sarah Hill, Xiao-Xiao He, Guangyu Yang, Thomas Patten, Natalie Counts, Kathy Kong, and Peter Bassi with leadership and guidance from Richard Reibstein. Emily Rogers helped to compile the information for web-posting. The team is grateful to the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies for sponsoring the project.