The EPA must not move forward to issue regulations on lead-based paint in commercial buildings absent credible health studies, undertaken in commercial building settings, which determine there is a known or imminent public health emergency. Furthermore, EPA must also consider the impact that any lead-based paint regulations will have regarding energy efficiency and water conservation retrofits in commercial buildings.
On May 6, 2010, the U.S. EPA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) (75 Fed. Reg. 24,848) titled “Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program for Public and Commercial Buildings.” This is the first step in EPA’s plans to promulgate regulations on both internal and external building renovations.
EPA and HUD have a long legislative and regulatory history addressing lead-based paint activities and hazards in “target housing” and “child-occupied facilities.” Studies to date have been undertaken almost exclusively in residential settings. EPA itself acknowledges that issuance of the ANPRM derives from a litigation settlement agreement with advocacy groups and not any known or imminent public health emergency or crisis.
Though lead has long been prohibited in wall paints, it is still commonly used in commercial and industrial applications, such as metal doors, equipment, and handrails. As such, EPA is not expected to limit its regulatory scope to older buildings, as it has in residential settings (pre-1978).