58 days & counting: One organization says enough and my thoughts about it

wdda-logoWell it appears that I am not the only one questioning the EPA’s hurried rollout, and one organization is actually pushing a letter writing campaign. While I personally disagree with a few items in the letter, it is actually nice to see that some of the current issues are at least trying to be addressed by others. I received permission from David Walker of the WDDA (Window & Door Dealers Alliance) to post the following letter and information on my blog.

About WDDA:

The WDDA’s mission is to represent the interests of retail, wholesale, and installing dealers of new and replacement windows, doors, skylights, and related building products. The WDDA is the only national business organization advancing the interests of independent Window and Door Dealers. The WDDA represents both the multi-billion dollar residential window and door replacement industry and the interests of your individual business.

WDDA’s Goal:

The April 22 effective date of the new Environmental Protection Agency lead paint rules is quickly approaching. The WDDA has joined forces with other industry associations to present a united front, and your help is needed. As part of the coordinated effort, the WDDA is encouraging members to approach members of Congress and urge them to delay the effective date of the new rules. The WDDA has drafted a letter that you can personalize and send to your representatives (find your local representatives online). This letter includes the official stance of the WDDA on the issue. Specifically, the industry is urging officials to support a deferral of the date of implementation and to preserve the opt out.

WDDA’s Letter:

Dear (Name),

I am writing to urge you to intervene with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.  Businesses like ours are being forced to comply with new lead paint regulations scheduled to take effect on April 22, 2010. The rules (officially named EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Program) apply to homes and other buildings built prior to 1978.

While the window and door industry has several concerns with these new rules, we nevertheless recognize the need to comply with them. That said, it is a virtual certainty that the majority of window and door dealers like ours, those in the state of (State), and others around the nation will not be in compliance by the required date.

Though the rules were promulgated in 2008, our industry was not informed about the need for supplemental training and certification until much later. In addition, the regulation originally included an “opt-out” provision allowing customers to sign a waiver releasing liability to the installing dealer as long as there are no pregnant women or children under the age of six living in the home. Our understanding is that this opt-out provision may not be part of the final rule.

Our appeal to you is two-fold –

1)       Preserve the opt-out provision. This is a common-sense, cost-reducing carve-out that puts control in consumers’ hands while not compromising health and safety.

2)       Defer the regulation’s implementation date to January 1, 2011, or later.

The current tax credit for energy improvements is scheduled to expire on January 1. The delay will allow contractors, remodelers and renovators the time needed to attend training courses (which are currently in high demand or even sold-out) and earn their certifications. Without this added cushion, many quality service providers could have their insurance policies canceled due to carriers’ concerns about liability associated with the lead paint rules.

The additional time should likewise ensure that the kits used to detect lead are both reliable and accurate. Currently, the kits do not provide definitive results when testing to determine if lead is present and at a level to which the rule applies, or to test the work area for compliance once work is complete. Ideally, the regulations would be delayed until accurate tests are commercially available.

I realize the lead paint rules are probably not among your highest priorities; however, you need to know that as it is currently written, the regulation is a serious and potentially devastating issue to our company and many other companies in (State). We simply ask that you implore the EPA to give us some much-needed breathing room so that compliance does not put us out of business.

I would be happy to discuss our concerns in more depth with you or your staff at any time.

Sincerely,

For an editable letter and a list of major Senator’s and Congressman that are on applicable committees that can directly affect this process you may find them here on WDDA website. EPA Letter & Contact List

My thoughts:

First, as a Homeowner you may be wondering why I am even posting this here; how does this affect me, I don’t even own a pre-78 house, why should I care? While the direct costs – Plastic sheathing, Swifter sheets, Trash Bags, and increased time on a job will be factored into that jobs costs, you still will end up paying for what would is considered the indirect costs. Indirect costs like the increased insurance, new licenses, additional tools, maintenance, etc… are all bundled together into what is called “Overhead” which then is added to every job we do.

One of the other reasons is simple education; while Lead poisoning is a serious issue, with a little common sense, it is easily avoidable, and we prefer giving you the straight facts about an issue that can have a profound effect on you and your family. While the Homeowners Resource Center is mainly designed to help Homeowners, many other Construction Firms, Specialty Contractors, and others that may work on your home at some time also view it. I am sure that you would rather have someone educated about the potential issues working on your house than one that is clueless.

As for the letter, I applaud them requesting a delayed implementation for numerous reasons; this will give them time to educate both the homeowners and contractors of the need for such a regulation. Their testing kits should easily be approved by then. This will allow almost enough time for any state wishing to take over the program, the time to get their systems in place. This should also give everyone enough time to get trained. Who knows maybe OSHA will finally sit down with them and come up with a workable program for residential work? I do have to question what the tax credit expiring has anything to do with this though.

I will disagree with them on the Opt-Out provision. If this regulation is truly required, it should apply to all structures that are built prior to 1978 unless they are lead free. Lead has been shown to affect everyone, not just kids.

With that being said, I must disagree with the implication that this is a needed regulation. Most items in this regulation are already being done by “Dust Free Remodeling” companies on every job they do. Some of the items they have listed are not only unsafe, but also unnecessary to contain Lead Dust. What could have easily been handled with simple “Best Practices,” has now turned into a convoluted program being rushed out.

The EPA and some of the larger Training Providers and activists started working on this program back in 1999, pushing to make it a regulation – can you imagine how many people might have been helped if they had simply released these best practices back then? I can hear a few people in the back already, but if it was just a voluntary best practice, not everyone would comply, would they? Well no, not everyone would comply with them, but is every company and individuals actually going to comply with this regulation? I will close with this simple quote from the EPA…

If the regulation is not accompanied by education efforts and enforcement, then we could unintentionally drive up demand for non-compliant renovation projects.

  • David Steele

    Thanks for posting this article and your comments. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a charter member and I serve on the Advisory Board of the WDDA.
    I’ve been in the window industry for thirty years. I have always embraced best practices, pushing the envelope to ensure that our customers got the best product and the best value. I take pride in doing everything I can to do what is right for our customers.
    After watching our industry nearly collapse over the last three years, I must admit that I feel discouraged and fearful about our prospects as a small family business. The EPA’s RRP has the potential of bringing the R/R market to its knees.
    I fear that consumers will respond by delaying or cancelling projects, a new market will be created for lawyers and the insurance companies will begin raising rates dramatically. Most importantly, these new rules increase my risk as a small businessman exponentially. For the first time in thirty years I am questioning whether the risk far outweighs the potential rewards.
    Lastly,while i neither added lead to paint or used the product; the burden of clean up and the liabiity for damages has all been shifted to the mostly small business operators who do R/R work. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

    • Sean

      Fair – definitely not, and they definitely targeted the window & door market with specific exclusions. You would actually think that they would target older windows for replacements instead of tying your guy’s hands with an inordinate burden. I recall another window association calculated it added a full $100 for each window to the cost.

      Full 6′ x 6′ plus containment areas inside or seal up the window opening & only work from the outside. No matter what you then have to have a full 10′ x 20’+ containment area outside. For what, some lead dust that might be inside that can easily be vacuumed up before you start and after you score the paint?

  • GeorgeL

    I really like the fresh perpective you did on the issue. Really was not expecting that when I started off studying. Your concepts were easy to understand that I wondered why I never looked at it before. Glad to know that there’s an individual out there that definitely understands what he’s discussing. Great job