The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) heard comments from property owners, contractors, union officials and environmental groups in a public hearing on June 26, 2013, on a pending rule that would establish additional federal requirements for renovations and repairs in public buildings built before 1978 and all commercial buildings. EPA has suggested that multifamily buildings with more than 10 units may be considered as commercial properties for the purpose of this rule. This represents a significant expansion of current regulations, which apply only to residential buildings and child-occupied facilities constructed prior to 1978, when lead paint was banned.
Patrick Connor, President of CONNOR, an environmental consulting firm based in Baltimore, represented NMHC at the hearing. In his testimony, Connor called on EPA to conduct the necessary research to first identify whether lead paint in these buildings is creating a threat to the public health and, if it is found that current lead paint-related workplace regulations are insufficient to protect, then EPA should tailor the solution to the problems that are identified rather than simply applying the residential lead paint rules to an expanded group of buildings.
“Repair and renovation activities in commercial buildings are already regulated by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. EPA must make a finding that these activities are creating a lead hazard either within or emanating from these structures prior to creating an additional layer of regulatory compliance for property owners and contractors,” Connor explained.
Christine Young-Gertz of the Apartment Association of Philadelphia also articulated the industry’s concerns, testifying on behalf of the National Apartment Association, NMHC’s joint legislative partner. In her testimony, Young-Gertz objected to EPA’s suggestion that apartment buildings with more than 10 units be considered commercial property and thus subject to additional regulation. She stated:
“EPA’s proposal to potentially include over 6.5 million post-1978 constructed apartments in a new lead-based paint regulatory program without specific information regarding the lead status of those properties strains credulity, and it at odds with HUD survey data that identified minimal lead in residential properties built after 1960 and the fact that, in 1978, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the sale of leaded paint for use in residential structures. Any new rule predicated along these lines will negatively impact the cost of rental housing and exacerbate the shortage of safe, affordable and accessible housing without likely addressing lead from other sources (beyond paint) that are present in the general environment.”
EPA is required to issue a final rule by July 2015 to regulate potential lead hazards that may result from these buildings.
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