EPA extends deadline for lead paint training
By Matthew Daly
Washington (AP) — Home improvement contractors will have more time to meet new federal requirements for dealing with lead paint.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will delay until Oct. 1 enforcement of a rule requiring contractors to take additional precautions when renovating houses where children could be exposed to lead dust from old paint, according to the agency.
The delay comes amid a storm of complaints from industry groups and congressional Republicans, who said the government has not provided enough trainers to help contractors meet an April deadline.
The EPA rule requires contractors to use lead-safe practices when working on homes, day-care centers and schools built before 1978, the year lead paint was banned for residential use because of health risks.
The delay allows contractors to sign up for training by Sept. 30. Training must be completed by Dec. 31.
In Wisconsin, new state rules took effect April 22 requiring home-renovation contractors train workers in lead abatement to get a state license before working on houses built before 1978. But because of a backlog of license applications, the state Department of Health Services will not penalize companies with license applications pending.
According to a statement attributed to the EPA, the agency remains committed to protecting children and families from the dangers of lead poisoning, and that “EPA can and will take enforcement action when contractors violate those work practices.”
The decision simply gives firms more time to file needed paperwork to demonstrate they are following lead-safe work practices, as well as more time for contractors to enroll in and complete the required training courses, said EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan.
Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, senior Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, hailed the delay.
“We won,” Inhofe said, referring to industry groups and lawmakers who had pushed the EPA to back off its earlier deadline for enforcement of the rule.
Inhofe said he supports the lead paint rule, but he called the EPA’s handling of the issue a “disaster.”
A National Association of Home Builders official said the delay will give contractors and remodelers much-needed time to get the training to meet the stricter requirements.
“EPA listened to our concerns and did the right thing,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a builder and developer in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
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