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EPA Balks on Lead Testing, Leaves Millions at Risk

Last Friday, July 15, 2011, the EPA refused to implement lead dust requirements in spite of a judicial legislative mandate to protect children from exposure to lead contamination.
Lobbyists representing the construction and home improvement industry claimed victory, and continued efforts to disembowel enforcement provisions of the existing Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule. Toward that end, the US House of Representatives, under intense pressure from NAHB and other construction advocates, is poised to withhold funding for EPA to enforce standards designed to ensure that children and adults living in pre-1978 housing are not lead poisoning.

Numerous studies, including EPA and National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) research, confirms that renovation of lead painted surfaces creates lead dust hazards that unless controlled and properly cleaned, will lead to elevated blood lead levels in the occupants.

Lead exposure disrupts cognitive and physical development and is seen as a major contributor to behavioral disabilities and crime.

EPA’s action comes in spite of overwhelming evidence that current RRP provisions are not sufficient to create lead safe homes. To date, EPA has received numerous complaints about faulty work practices and has issued but one violation, in Maine.

Lead poisoning prevention advocacy groups could not match the lobbying strength of the home-building groups, who arranged visits to the White House and members of Congress in advance of the rule release.
Advocacy groups have begun to mobilize on the issue. The Lead & Environmental Hazards Association (LEHA) has issued an action alert that encourages interested parties to contact their Federal representatives. The National Center for Healthy Homes (NCHH) has created alerts through which you can advocate directly to your US House Members and Senators that they should reject the anti-RRP language that was placed in the House Interior-Environment Appropriations bill as a result of the Rehberg amendment last week.

There are two alerts: one for the House and another for the Senate. The House will be voting on the funding enforcement bill (HR 2584)* as early as this Thursday (July 21); deliberations are underway for the Senate bill. It’s timely to message both, therefore please click on BOTH links and follow through to send your messages.