Members of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association are offering their opinions on how a new EPA lead regulation will affect their operations.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a rule to reduce lead exposure in renovation and remodeling projects. The PHCC analyzed the 300-page proposal and surveyed its members to provide their input. The association submitted these responses to the EPA April 10.

"We think it will be extremely helpful for the EPA to hear what contractors think about this proposed regulation," said Lake Coulson, PHCC vice president of government relations. "Our comments will assess the practicality of the requirements, and comment on whether portions are realistic, cost-effective and efficient. EPA has the statutory authority to issue such a rule; however, PHCC may be able to influence some of its requirements."

The proposed regulation is part of the EPA's overall attempt to eliminate exposure to lead-based paint by 2010. An EPA rule requiring remodeling contractors to provide occupants with a brochure about the dangers of lead-based paint already exists. The 2006 proposal adds a focus on the elimination of lead "dust" created as a result of remodeling performed on residences built prior to 1978. According to the PHCC, it is uncertain when it will go into effect.

The new regulation would require owners and occupants to receive new information on lead paint hazards before renovations or remodeling begins. Also, persons or firms performing renovations would need to be properly trained and certified, and would follow safe practices during all phases of renovation.

According to the PHCC, there are many other areas of the rule that impact renovation contractors, such as new cleaning and clearance testing procedures. There are also some exceptions, such as emergency renovations in target housing and disruption of spaces less than two square feet.