AMERICAN SOCIETY
OF SAFETY ENGINEERS
1800 East Oakton Street
Des Plaines, Illinois  60018-2187
847.699.2929
FAX 847.296.3769
www.asse.org

April 16, 2006

Docket ID:  EPA-HQ-OPPT-2005-0049
Document Control Office (7407M)
Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT)
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460-0001

By e-mail:  http://www.regulations.gov

RE:  ASSE Comments on EPA Notice on Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program [March 16, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 51)]

To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), members of ASSE’s Environmental Practice Specialty have reviewed the two new documents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has included in the rulemaking docket (EPA-HQ-OPPT-2005-0049-0001) of its January 2006 proposal to establish new requirements to reduce exposure to lead hazards created by renovation, repair, and painting activities that disturb lead-based paint.  EPA’s own study, Characterization of Dust Lead Levels after Renovation, Repair, and Painting Activities, and the National Association of Home Builder’s (NAHB) Lead-Safe Work Practices Survey Project are positive additions to the accumulation of knowledge EPA has gathered on this issue. 

EPA's study was designed to compare the amount of lead dust remaining after the use of the proposed lead-safe work practices and after clean-up with the amount of lead dust remaining after typical work practices. The study confirmed that EPA’s proposed work practices assist in reducing lead dust after projects are completed. The NAHB’s study was intended to assess whether routine renovation activities increase lead dust levels and found that well trained workers following safe work practices do not create lead hazards in homes.
The principal author of the following discussion of how these new resources inform the original questions posed by EPA in its January 2006 rulemaking on this issue is Jeffery C. Camplin CSP, CPEA, REP, the Administrator of ASSE’s Environmental Practice Specialty.  Mr. Camplin’s contributions are based on his long professional career in environmental risk assessment and remediation management, including first-hand experience as an EPA/HUD lead-based paint instructor and a State of Illinois licensed lead risk assessor. 

  • EPA specifically requests comment on applying the requirements of this proposal without the exclusion for target housing where children under age 6 do not reside.

Children can be exposed to unacceptable levels of lead paint dust when lead-safe work practices are not used in building where children enter or are adjacent to. Other areas children spend a significant amount of time include schools, churches, park district facilities, stores, hotels, hospitals, parks, restaurants, and playgrounds.  Improper lead paint disturbance at or near these areas could also contribute to unwanted lead exposures in children.  EPA should consider including these “other” areas where a significant amount of children spend time at or near them.

  • EPA requests comment on incorporating size limitations into this proposal.

The proposed standard contains de minimus amounts (<2sq.ft) of lead paint disturbance.  The safe work practices should be required anytime lead paint is disturbed.  These work practices are easy to implement and ensure no unacceptable lead dust levels are generated during renovation activities.  The de minimus levels should not be increased.

  • EPA is considering whether some or all of these proposed provisions should be incorporated into the abatement regulations. In particular, the Agency is requesting comment about allowing the use of the workplace practices in this proposal in lieu of the prohibition of certain workplace practices in the abatement regulations.

Incorporating the provisions of the proposed regulation into the abatement regulations is appropriate if the work practices are performance-based.  Performance-based standards work well in the field as long as there are certain work practices that must always be followed and certain work practices that are prohibited.  There are too many variations in residential renovation to exclude the use of safe work practices that perform in a manner equivalent to the performance expected by abatement.

  • The Agency is requesting comment about allowing cleaning verification in lieu of clearance testing in the abatement regulations.  If the Agency were to change the abatement regulations, it could incorporate the regulatory language in this proposal (i.e., allow abatement firms the option of following the workplace practice standards in the proposed 40 CFR 745.85(a) in lieu of the workplace practice standards in the abatement rule, and allow abatement firms the option of following the cleaning verification procedure in the proposed 40 CFR 745.85(b) in lieu of the clearance testing requirements) in the abatement rule. Comments are invited on whether changes should be proposed to the abatement regulations and, if so, the nature of these changes.

Abatement implies through definition that a hazard exists. Hazards are defined as elevated dust levels on various surfaces (window sills, window wells, floors).  The only way to demonstrate the hazard no longer exists is to verify the dust levels on surfaces through clearance dust wipe sampling.  On the other hand, safe work practices do not presume a hazard exists.  If safe work practices are followed it is assumed that no hazards will be generated.  Therefore, clearance verification would be appropriate in lieu of clearance dust wipe sampling since no hazard had been previously identified.

  • EPA also understands that there may be emergency situations where compliance with the training, certification, and work practice requirements of this proposal is not practicable. EPA is proposing to add a statement to the section describing this exemption to make it clear that the work practice requirements, the recordkeeping requirements, and the training and certification requirements in proposed Sec. Sec.  745.85, 745.86, 745.89, and 745.90 apply to the extent practicable.

EPA should consider a clearance requirement after post-emergency cleaning where safe work practices are not used or untrained workers respond to the emergency.  Children should not be allowed in areas where lead-based paint has been disturbed without the use of safe work practices and/or properly trained workers.  Clearance testing would confirm that no hazards were created by the emergency and/or the response.  Clearance testing is always practicable prior to children re-entering areas where lead-based paint has been disturbed in an uncontrolled manner.

  • An option EPA considered was a requirement that a certified renovator be physically present at the work site at all times while regulated renovation activities are ongoing. EPA believes that this approach would provide less flexibility for renovation firms, but requests comment on whether that is actually the case, and whether this approach would significantly improve the quality of the work performed by uncertified workers.

It is important that a certified renovator is responsible for project oversight and compliance with the work practices in the proposed regulations.  However, it is a huge financial burden for contractors to assign a dedicated person to oversee safe work practices.  The EPA should consider a requirement that a certified renovator visit the worksite at least once each shift and be available by phone while lead-safe work practices are taking place.  The name and contact information of the certified renovator shall be available at the jobsite.

  • EPA invites comment on all aspects of its proposed work practice standards.

The proposed work practice standards do not adequately address the decontamination of workers and/or equipment involved with lead-safe work practices.  Significant lead dust contamination can be tracked out of a work area if workers and/or equipment are not properly decontaminated.  Also, workers with contaminated clothing can “take home” contamination to their own children.  Finally, bringing lead-contaminated equipment to another jobsite could potentially create a lead hazard at a new site.  High levels of lead dust were noted at containment exit areas during the testing performed in the “Final Draft Report” released by the EPA in January 2007. EPA should consider specifying minimum personal protective clothing (disposable suits) and minimum decontamination procedures for personnel and equipment. Decontamination procedures should include wet wiping and/or HEPA vacuuming all exposed surfaces, providing hand-washing facilities for workers, and protocols for verifying equipment removed from the work area has been properly cleaned. Similar cleaning/decontamination procedures, and verification are already specified in the proposed work practices for the work area containment and the exterior of waste bags. These same considerations should be specified for personnel and equipment to ensure "all personnel, tools and other items, including the exterior of containers of waste must be free of dust and debris when leaving the work area."

  • EPA requests comment on all of the available methods for achieving the clearance goal, including visual inspections, dust clearance testing, and the proposed post-renovation cleaning verification process described below.

The EPA has accurately identified the problem of excessive cost and time involved with dust clearance testing.  Safe work practices should not create lead hazards.  Therefore, visual inspections and post-remediation cleaning verification should be adequate to achieve clearance goals on renovation projects.

  • EPA also requests comment on whether any cleanup verification is necessary, given the proposed cleaning requirements described.

Clean-up verification should be required to be signed off by a Certified Renovator prior to allowing children back into a renovation site where lead-based paint was disturbed.  The clearance criteria should minimally be visual.  EPA might consider the use of additional testing such as post-renovation cleaning verification and dust clearance testing based upon the size of a project or other criteria.

ASSE urges EPA to take these comments into consideration as it moves forward towards a final standard on lead-based work practices as quickly as is reasonably possible. 

ASSE is the largest and oldest membership organization representing safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals.  Our more than 30,000 members include safety professionals, industrial hygienists, environmental practitioners, hazard material managers, educators, engineers, ergonomists, occupational health nurses and others, all of whom strive each day to help ensure workers are able to go home each day safe, healthy and free from the impact of environmental risks.   If ASSE’s members can be helpful to EPA in further addressing this issue, we would encourage you to contact Dave Heidorn, JD, Manager of Government Affairs and Policy at 847/768-3406 or dheidorn@asse.org.

Sincerely,

 

Donald S. Jones, Sr., CSP, PE
President