EPA Plans to Survey Contractors on Lead Paint in Public and Commercial Buildings
January 07, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it plans to survey general contractors regarding their recent renovation, repair and painting (RRP) activities in public- and private-sector commercial buildings.  EPA has asked for public comment by Feb. 4 on the scope and clarity of the questions included in its draft Information Collection Request (ICR), as well as its underlying assumptions and burden/cost estimates.  EPA is taking these steps because it needs more data on whether or not RRP activities in buildings expose the public to lead-based paint (LBP) dust.  If EPA determines such activities create LBP “hazards,” the agency will write additional rules that will apply to building contractors. 

EPA’s “Survey of the Public and Commercial (P&C) Building Industry” uses separate questionnaires for contractors that perform RRP activities in P&C buildings; lessors and managers of P&C buildings that use their own staff to perform RRP activities; and building owners and occupants of P&C buildings that use their own staff to perform RRP activities. EPA’s draft contractor survey asks questions on the following: the types of RRP activities that are being performed in all categories of non-residential buildings; the amount of renovation jobs that have disturbed lead-painted surfaces; the “best management practices” that are currently being used on RRP jobs; and work practices specific to the containment and clean-up of the work area.  To access the EPA Public and Commercial Building Contractor Survey Questionnaire, click here.

Again, comments on EPA’s draft contractor survey are due by Feb. 4, 2014.  AGC is currently working with a “Commercial Properties Coalition” to provide input by the deadline.  AGC welcomes AGC member feedback on the following questions EPA has specifically called-out for comment—

  • Is it clear what information the questions are asking respondents for? Are there any suggestions for rewording the questions or providing clarifying instructions?
  • Are there other questions that EPA should ask in order to understand the baseline incidence of different types of renovation, repair, and painting activities that disturb lead-based paint in public and commercial buildings, the methods that are used to conduct these activities, the work practices that are used to contain and clean the resulting dust, and the characteristics of the buildings?
  • How accurate are EPA’s assumptions in the ICR, such as the percentage of respondents that will perform renovation, repair, and painting activities in public and commercial buildings; the average number of jobs per year they perform; and the average number of employees engaged in these activities?
  • Do you agree with EPA’s estimates of the burden and cost of responding to the survey? Are the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) labor rates accurate? If you have any reason to consider the BLS labor rates as used by EPA inaccurate or inappropriate, explain your rationale.

Please email responses to AGC’s Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org by Friday, Jan. 31 for inclusion in AGC’s comment letter.  In addition, you can submit your comments directly to EPA by accessing Docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2013-0715 at www.regulations.gov, or using the link http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EPA-HQ-OPPT-2013-0715. On that same web page you can access EPA’s Federal Register notice, the ICR supporting documents and any public comments received to date.

For several years, AGC — working in partnership with the Commercial Properties Coalition — has participated in EPA’s process to consider new lead paint rules.  In 2013, the coalition submitted lengthy written comments to EPA and AGC also provided a statement at a public hearing last summer – click here.

The latest round of public comments on EPA’s draft contractor survey is due Feb. 4, 2014. Following the receipt of stakeholder input, the agency must obtain approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before actually fielding any final survey instruments. Assuming EPA receives approval from OMB, the screening and questionnaires could be sent to construction companies during the spring of 2014. The agency also confirmed that any proposed rules on renovation and remodeling activities to address purported lead-based paint hazards could be in place by July 1, 2015 – the current deadline set by a litigation settlement agreement with environmental groups.  A final rule would follow by the end of 2016.

For more information, please contact AGC’s Senior Environmental Advisor Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org.