Regulatory Review: EPA’s Push for Commercial RRP

Already industry feedback has labeled the current RRP rules as misaligned and ineffective; essentially, it is a useless, weighted yoke for small businesses to unnecessarily lug about. Yet, the EPA wants to expand the residential RRP (Renovation, Repair & Painting) regulation to commercial and public buildings. Remember that the EPA must scientifically prove that a hazard exists before implementing rules.  The justification for the current (home based and child occupied facility) RRP was supposedly to protect children: five years old and younger.

If you have read any of the previous PPT discussions on the EPA’s cited empirical evidence, you may know that the inaccurate and irrelevant citations are rampant, glaring, and gut wrenching flaws. Briefly, the EPA cited preparation task data collection (the cook the books via stacking lead samples from the oldest era of inner city housing) and outright mischaracterized wholesale paint/coating removal as “typical re-paint procedures” to help identify/amplify lead based paint hazards.

Someone in the EPA’s ivory tower must have thought that stripping paint (total removal) by open flame torching; high speed grinding and needle gunning were the “normal”, everyday methods of residential re-paint preparation. It is like a sad, ironic case of “Believe It or Not!” that the EPA proclaims to paint professionals what are and are not typical re-paint preparation tasks. Maybe they do know and there is some not so fun trickery going on?

Fast forward to the present, the EPA reached for the old and trusted “save the children” tool in an attempt to identify lead hazards in commercial and public buildings, but abruptly failed to connect the dots. Even by the EPA’s familiar “weird science” routine, the fact stretching line snapped too easily. No problem, the EPA shifted gears and changed the hazard identification criteria.

So what the EPA called a hazard in houses will be different in commercial and public buildings? Have you heard the outcry of lead paint based sickness and aliments from commercial and public buildings renovation exposures? Where are the elevated blood lead levels?

No one has heard any outcry and the EPA has zero relevant empirical evidence to justify a public lead hazard form such renovations. Well, the EPA must have thought for a bit and seemingly concluded to run a play from the residential RRP book: make up some facts and apply the weird science to try and yoke paint professionals.

The EPA has made a “model” based on irrelevant preparation tasks (high speed grinding, torching, needle gun, heat gun and dry scrape stripping). The “model” is really a series of models designed to predict lead based paint dust remnant hazards and associated health effects. The EPA gathered twelve PHDs to evaluate the model series and not one itchy-beard could state that the contraption worked, or could predict lead hazards accurately.

So the facts remain:
1.    The EPA has NOT identified a general public lead based paint hazard from commercial and public building renovations.

2.    The EPA has NOT produced historical data showing that the general population is at risk from a lead based paint hazard from commercial and public building renovations. The key difference is that if lead based paint dust remnants are released and the general public walks by a project, the “exposure” is at best, very small and intermittent. It is NOT the same as living among house dust containing lead remnants for long term and consistent exposures.

3.    The EPA entered irrelevant prep tasks into the “model” skewing dust release measurements exponentially higher than real, typical re-paint preparation procedures would have if performed by paint professionals.

4.    The EPA model has NOT been accepted independently.

Yet, the EPA pushes forward to expand RRP…What can we conclude?

The probability of the EPA achieving model results that reflect the reality of actual commercial and public building renovation activities from a series of models without inputting modern data centered on typical renovation procedures of commercial and public building is very low and any output would most likely be quite unreliable and irrelevant.

The EPA’s current strategy of manipulating old residential data (1990s and earlier) and inputting it into commercial and public building “models” is pragmatically inadequate and unscientific. In the present day, the mischaracterization of lead based paint removal (paint stripping) tasks as typical renovation activities does not represent the reality of RRP projects in nearly any occupational environment.

There seems to be an enormous disconnect between the EPA’s understanding of typical preparation procedures and the reality of what actually takes place in the commercial and public building renovation industry. Today’s typical commercial and public building renovation prep procedures may not be represented in the EPA’s old, residential data, calculations and results.

Without doubt, the EPA should seek authentic empirical evidence BEFORE implementing and expanding RRP.  The model approach does not work; it looks like a regulators’ pie in the sky wet dream.

PPT will follow the regulatory process and report.
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