Thursday, September 26, 2019

California Signs Law Protecting Homeowners from Paint Companies

lead paint window
A new California law will protect homeowners seeking lead abatement from legal
retaliation from large companies. 

Last month, the governor of California signed a new lead paint bill into law. Under AB 206, homeowners and public agencies will be protected from claims related to lead abatement work. The bill is designed to prevent larger companies from suing property owners in retaliation against owners seeking damages for lead paint exposure.

The new legislation comes shortly after several national companies made headlines for a class action lawsuit involving several Californian counties. The counties sought damages for lead paint that Sherwin-Williams, ConAgra Grocery, and NL Industries previously sold to property owners in the area and resulted in a lead poisoning crisis in old housing stock across the state.

The litigation between the cities and national retailers played out for nearly 20 years involving several countersuits. One such countersuit involved the companies attempting to reduce their settlement by deducting the costs of previously abated local homes. In another countersuit, the companies implicated the counties themselves as nuisances. In the end, the companies agreed on a $305 million settlement which will go toward inspecting and abating affected homes.

Despite federal intervention and local initiatives, lead paint exposure continues to pose a threat to millions of American families. Lead paint was widely used in homes prior to 1978. As a result, many old homes are potential sources of lead exposure.

Lead exposure is associated with cognitive delays, reproductive defects, bone deformities and organ failure. When the paint in old homes starts to chip, it becomes a danger for tenants who can inhale or ingest lead paint.

This new legislation will help protect victims of lead paint exposure by protecting their right to participate in lead abatement programs without it affecting their legal standing.

To learn more about the bill, visit California's legislative website.To learn more about lead paint safety and removal, and how to get involved in this field, visit Zack Academy. Zack Academy offers a variety of lead paint training courses both online and in-person for your convenience.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

EPA Inspector General Recommends Improvements to RRP Rule Enforcement

lead paint
The EPA Inspector General found that the agency is not effectively enforcing
its RRP rule due to a lack of communication between regional offices.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General concluded in an audit that EPA is not effectively implementing its lead-based paint rule. The Inspector General cites insufficient communication between offices as the primary reason for inefficiency.

The Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule is a first line of defense against childhood lead exposure. Lead exposure is associated with cognitive impairments as well as bone, blood, and reproductive diseases. There is no safe level of lead exposure; adherence to the RRP rule is critical as EPA estimates 18 million lead renovation projects occur each year.

However, EPA is having difficulty enforcing its own rule due to a lack of coordination between regional offices. According to the report, EPA is not sufficiently tracking regional targeting strategies or RRP outreach activities. Critical information on inspections is also lost between the offices. As a result, the EPA is not accurately evaluating its progress on reducing lead paint exposure.

The report also noted the current EPA administration's failure to mention lead paint as a priority in its 2018-2019 National Program Management Guidances. The 2020-2021 Guidances mention reducing lead exposure as a priority, but provide few measures of progress or information on how this goal will be achieved.

The Inspector General issued several corrective actions with two of them already pending upon release of the report. These corrections include an update to current program guidance, improvement on management oversight, and the creation of more transparent, measurable goals.

One of the most interesting recommendations is the establishment of a forum to share best practices and innovations between the various regional EPA offices. In the report, the Inspector General expressed that EPA regions could benefit from sharing "regionally developed tools, ideas, and approaches."

To learn more about this report, visit the EPA website. To learn more about the RRP Rule and lead paint certifications, visit Zack Academy.