Home Repair Rule Goes Over Like Lead Balloon


There's no question that health care reform (yes, a euphemism) is the topic of the day. But just so you don't forget that the government can juggle all sorts of monumental screwups at the same time, here's a nice story brought to you courtesy of the EPA:

On April 22, the Environmental Protection Agency is slated to enact rules requiring EPA certification for contractors working 0n homes built before lead paint was banned in 1978. The rule, aimed at limiting exposure to lead, applies to carpenters, plumbers, heating and air conditioning workers, window installers and others.

Two-thirds of U.S. homes and apartments (78 million out of 120 million) were built before 1978, says Calli Schmidt of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), citing Census Bureau data. She says half of the pre-1978 homes don't contain lead but the rule, depending on implementation, might apply to all of them.

USA Today notes one obvious problem with this rule: "The EPA has certified only 14,000 workers in lead-safe practices despite its own estimate that more than 200,000 will need to be trained, according to the NAHB [National Association of Home Builders]."

There are others, of course, starting with the idea of making work more difficult and expensive (great idea during a recession) and the fact that lead exposure rates among children, the most vulnerable group at risk for exposure, have been dropping like a lead balloon independent of this sort of thing. But as fans of Star Wars could tell you, a phantom menace is sometimes better than the real thing.

NEXT: How a Bill Becomes a Law: Pass It, Find Out What's In It, Then Fix It

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  1. Nick, why do you hate children?

    1. I bet it has a homeowner exemption. You know what Dad does? Makes his kids scrape all the paint off the house. You can be damn sure he isn’t going to do it.

      1. In Chicago there’s a program where the government helps landlords replace old wooden windows– the theory being that an old wooden window is a very efficient lead paint grinder/aerosolizer. Now, you could look at this as a big government giveaway to landlords, but on the whole, if govt is going to spend like drunken sailors, this is the kind of smartly strategic targeting of high-risk conditions that you’d like to see, as providing the most bang for the buck.

        And creating new rules heedless of their real world cost or implementation is the opposite…

    2. According to Jon Stewart, libertarians also hate seat-belts:…..ibertarian

  2. “The EPA has certified only 14,000 workers in lead-safe practices despite its own estimate that more than 200,000 will need to be trained, according to the NAHB [National Association of Home Builders].”

    Sounds like the EPA will need more money to certify lead-safe workers because there is now a huge shortage.

    Funny how that works.
    When a quotation ends with a declarative sentence, the period goes after the close quotation mark.

  3. This will promote DIY (and code skirtin’) like nothing since Bob Vila.

  4. I’m being hammered by this right now.

    Only half of our windows have been replaced, but we were going to replace the rest this summer. Our installer told us about this new requirement and said that they have no idea what is going to happen, but it could increase the cost by $200 window. (To whom do I address the thank you card?)

    The “good” news is that interest groups are supposed to meet with the EPA and ask for more time, because of the lack of guidance from the regulation and trained personnel.

  5. Absolutely brilliant! These are jobs that can’t be offshored so Americans will have to pay whatever the certified contractors can gouge. Then many Americans living in pre-1978 houses will just stop fixing them up, allowing the houses to deteriorate, which means home buyers will increasingly turn to new housing, which will create more construction jobs etc. Just think of all the jobs that could be created if the EPA were simply to ban occupancy of any house older than 35 years (after a “Cash for Fixer Uppers” program!)

  6. Consumers don’t know about this rule,” because EPA has not started its public outreach, Schmidt says. As a result, she argues, they could be tempted to hire less expensive, untrained workers, and though homeowners won’t be fined for doing so, their projects might not be as safe

    Just find another installer. I have a guy that works on my older lake house and I am sure he has never heard of this or even cares. Seems like a non-issue basically to be ignored. No real way to enforce and no penalties.

    1. Seems like a non-issue basically to be ignored.

      It’ll be enforced by a “Rat out your competition” policy. Direct from the third reich playbook.

    2. No real way to enforce and no penalties. Are you kidding? How does $37,500 per incident per day sound? Contractors have to be out of their minds to ignore this.

  7. Yea! I did my windows last year!

  8. The EPA has certified only 14,000 workers in lead-safe practices despite its own estimate that more than 200,000 will need to be trained

    So it’s part of the Teleprompter in Chief’s “jobs bill” – clearly, we’ll need to hire more EPA Certifiers to catch up the backlog. What a great idea!

  9. This is truly pointless regulation. At my university I teach a class in environmental chemistry. In the section on toxic metals, the text highlights the DRAMATIC drop in the levels of lead in children’s blood since leaded gasoline and leaded paint were phased out.

  10. Uh, the MythBusters built a lead balloon that floated even without being filled with pure helium.

    1. What? But what does this mean for Led Zeppelin?

      1. A Whole Lotta Love

        … Hobbit

        1. I have never heard of a lead-balloon sexual fetish existed or that the members of Led Zeppelin have such a fetish.

  11. The stupid part is that the EPA could simply publish guidelines for safe removal of lead. It would probably take about a page. “Wear a mask to protect yourself from the dust. Don’t eat the scrapings. Wash up after you finish.”

    1. But how will they know how to put on the mask right? Proper washing techniques? How to make sure you never put salt in your eye?

    2. “Wash up after you finish”

      But then you will let the lead particles enter the water stream, contaminating entire supplies, thus further endangering the children. No, you must wear a fully contained hazmat suit, collect all scrapings and sanding dust and dispose of them, and the suit, at a proper hazmat facility.

      Haven’t you ever worked with the EPA. It can’t be that simple.

  12. We get it. It’s the end of the America, the world, and probably the universe. You know, just like S.S., and Medicare destroyed your way of life as well. Oh, and the Civil Rights Act.

    It’s over ladies. The agrarian dream is as dead, if ever lived.

    It’s time to grow up, engage in the world like adults, and accept that government, while not the only solution, has a part to play; especially when it comes to basic health care. It’s not going away.

    Your free market ideals are what lead to the derivatives scams, and eventual collapse of the economy. You were listened to, and your message proved to be reckless in the most transparent way. It’s all on record. We don’t need to regress as a scoiety just to prove you wrong again. You need to start proving your arguments.

    You were wrong about the invisible hand, and you’re likely to be wrong about what this bill will eventually do for people without health insurance. Being wrong is what your lot does best.

    You’ve had your chance to engage in the discussion, and the best you could come up with is Tort Reform.

    One thing I’ve learned about Libertarian forums is that the people railing the most about being a productive citizens, are usually the least productive citizens. In fact, many of them are using these arguments to excuse their own irresponsibility, and apathy about the world.

    You’ve got Libertarian influenced goons attacking government buildings, and you guys keep spewing the same vitriol, and “just so” stories.

    Nothing changes. There’s no progress, or evolution in your thoughts.

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  14. Took the class yesterday. Cost me $350.00. Now have to send in another $300.00 for application to be certified. I’m just a small floor covering sales and installation man from a very small town. Business already went to pot and I had to start working for a large firm. Now it takes 3 months to get certified and I am out of work. I rarely disturb any paint, only if I remove shoe molding. Even lead paint trainer thought us guys should’t have to do it. Now Contractors are responsible for peoples kids? What a money making racket, then have to do it again in 5 years. Not to mention the mile high cost for customers and the supplies we will need. Around here people will just find someone to do the work anyway or do it themselves. They will laugh in your face about this.

  15. It’s a good directive from the EPA to eradicate health hazards in building homes. Here in our place in Alberta, we have calgary roofing contractors who adopt safety policies and procedures on roofing repairs as it is considered the most dangerous trade in the residential housing industry.

    However, it is still insufficient to to have certified only 14,000 contractors while 186,000 remain without lead-safe practices.

  16. I didn’t even think lead based paint was still an issue. The only thing I have seen some issues with is asbestos shingles and the government does have some useful programs for those for once. Youtube to MP3 online

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