Questions about limited lead exposure in commercial projects and the high cost of renovating non-compliant spaces spurred the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) posting an amendment last fall to include public and commercial structures in its Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP). The move followed a July 2012 report from the agency's inspector general that found the 2008 lead rule and 2010 commercial spaces amendment to have "used limited data to develop its cost and benefits estimates for the lead rule," and in some cases lacked the statistical validity and quantitative analysis to support its claims.

A suite of lawsuits followed the approval of a residential-focused LRRP in 2008, many of which addressed the absence of commercial and public buildings in the agency's rule save for structures that specifically cater to younger children. The lawsuits were consolidated in the D.C. court of appeals, with their impact amending the rule on multiple occasions between May 2009 and September 2012, with the final changes combining lead-paint requirements for the interior and exterior of commercial and public spaces and moving its approval date from Sept. 14, 2014 to July 1, 2015 with implementation by Jan. 1, 2017. Meantime, expect continued discussion from stakeholders about where the EPA is getting its data to support the rule and how it is sharing implementation plans with builders, contractors, and facility operators.

In a letter earlier this month to the now-resigned Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Lisa Jackson and acting assistant administrator James Jones, U.S. senators Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and David Vitter, R-La., asked the agency to clarify and share its decision-making data and other information used to justify bringing commercial and public buildings into LRRP's fold. In the letter, the senators ask the agency to answer a series of questions pertaining to the expansion, including providing a timeline for establishing and enforcing a standard lead level for public and commercial applications; the extent to which the agency communicated with building owners and managers regarding the rule’s expansion; and what data the EPA has collected regarding the manufacture and use of lead-based paint.

The EPA set up a public comment period beginning Dec. 31, 2012 and extending through April 1, 2013. A public meeting to discuss the rule and its expansion will be held in Washington, D.C., June 26.

More on the EPA's Lead-Paint Rule