It’s the year 2020, and we are bringing the focus of lead paint testing back on the map, for both contractors and the general public!
By popular demand, we are bringing back our EPA Audit Tracker initiative. The EPA Audit Tracker was previously the initiative where we would collect stories from contractors and other people having to comply with the RRP regulation by having correct record keeping as a contractor.
If EPA audits have started in your area, or you know someone who is being audited for compliance with the RRP regulation, we kindly ask you that they submit their stories through here so we can better track everything.
Tell your story and help other contractors stay informed about what is happening in your neighborhood by filling out the form below. Then see your story and see what others are saying on our interactive map.
We have not received any stories after launching but will be publishing them as they come in. Please strive to be as detailed as possible in your descriptions with regards to questions and various information that is being requested so we can all learn from the experiences shared in the community.
Make sure to bookmark this page in order to easily be able to find it in the future, or whatever is the normal thing to do in 2020.
What is the purpose with this tool?
Although this tool could be perceived as a way to “game the EPA”, the intention is not to circumvent anything. The intention is rather to make sure that you are protecting one of the assets that you may likely have spent a very long time building. If you have been in the business of working on houses that were built before 1978, we are just here to help you avoid fines. Although our motive is to help increase the safety of American families, it’s still with the intention that the contractors, too, are benefiting. If you are a new contractor, or you have just obtained your RRP certification, we encourage you to read through this just to make sure that you can see some of the previous encounters others have had, as well as how they handled them and what the outcomes were. While you should have received the necessary information from the RRP course that you have taken, we still believe that there is immense value in aggregating the various stories that different contractors have had so that you can get the best impression of the course of action that you ought to be taking. That way you ensure that the job you are doing today won’t create any problems for you 2 years down the line.
While it may not seem important to take the necessary precautions and document things as per the RRP standard, we do encourage you to do it. The EPA may just start digging around one of those jobs you did a long time ago, and all of a sudden want to see documentation for something that you even forgot that you did. The better your method of documenting and saving those documents, the more likely you are at also being able to easily locate the necessary documents and ensure that the visit from the EPA is just a standard one and not one that will result in any annoying consequences for you.
Do you have ulterior motives?
You might be interested in knowing whether we have ulterior motives, and there is no denying that our business obviously focuses on selling the different lead test kits that are used by contractors and that is a strong incentive for us to encourage compliance with the legislation that is in place, but we really like to believe that our intentions are more profound than that and that we aren’t just doing it for the money, that we are doing it to also help address unfair aspects of the American society. What we mean by that is that we are helping address, what we believe are a bunch of issues that stop social mobility and act as environmental racism – a fancy term that we didn’t even know about before we started more thoroughly populating this blog with various posts on the damaging effects of exposure to lead and the paint that it used to be put in. We truly believe that the lead paint is something bad, and that the effects that it has on various aspects of society are unfortunately proving to be especially damaging to segments of the population that are already very vulnerable, as they are often the poorer parts of the communities. For instance, black people are more likely to be living in public housing, and since a lot of public housing was built before all these initiatives such as the RRP regulation and the ban of lead paint in residential house paint, was introduced, the exposure happens largely to the poorer segments of our society, which we don’t find fair. The consequences of this exposure is then a cognitive decline, or by more popular term, brain damage, that leads to lower IQs, more difficulty focusing and some of the other consequences that kids will experience when they are exposed to lead paint.
While it would be dishonest of us to say that we aren’t interested in selling the products that we are selling on the site, which we are, of course, we still believe that the millions of homes that still have lead paint in them, ought to be made safer. We believe that you shouldn’t be unnecessarily exposed when you are either painting over lead paint or removing it, depending on what the specifications are for the job. While our intention is still to make it as safe for families as possible, we also want to create a level playing field among professionals, and that also means that we attempt to level the playing field when it comes to the information that is provided. By enforcing the RRP regulations, the EPA is helping level the playing field. While you may not like it, it is because some people choose not to play by the rules that the rest are also tempted to avoid playing by the rules.
We all know that homeowners can be cheap and want to do the job as cheap as possible, but if we can help increase the amount of contractors that comply with the RRP regulations, we can also help make it easier for you to win jobs when you are one of the contractors that already comply. It is clear that a contractor that isn’t taking the necessary precautions may just be able to underbid you on a job because there are some of the things that they choose not to do. For one, they may not be buying the protective clothing or coveralls that protect themselves, and while that may be bad for their health is ultimately their own decision. However, by not properly taping off the room and not using quality plastic sheeting when they’re removing the material, they might be saving some money, but they’re also exposing the family to unnecessary danger. This may in fact be a danger that they aren’t even aware of since they aren’t aware of the dangers of lead paint, and may likely not know when it was banned, what the proper safety precautions are. They probably also won’t know the extent needed to properly document the work that is being done, and they don’t know that it can in fact cause kidney failure in cases when lead dust is being inhaled. Perhaps they aren’t even aware of the extent to which lead poisoning is in fact still a thing that affects the American population.
Can you do anything to help?
Yes, definitely. We are looking for stories where either you or someone you know may have been in contact with the EPA, and we want to know in intricate detail how it went. What did it include? What did they ask? What information did you present them with? When you presented them with the information, how did they react? What were the questions they would ask in return? Did they question any of the things you had done, how you had done them?
Ultimately we are looking for accurate stories, preferably very detailed. The more detail you are able to provide the better. Did they just audit you or did they also audit other contractors in your area? Did anyone get fined, or did you avoid a fine somehow?
What was it like dealing with the EPA? We would really like stories from various sources, preferably ones that are thorough and at least 300 words long so that our readers can absorb the information that they contain and how to better do their business as well.
Can you help share this page with others, too?
If you are willing to do it, we would be very happy if you choose to share this information with others. It may be that you aren’t interested in providing your own story, or that you don’t necessarily know someone who has previously dealt with the EPA, but we would love to have this page mentioned on your website so that your users might be able to see it when they visit. If you wish to have it done, we can also accredit any story that we receive and have it link back to your website, which in turn may help send some business your way, too.
What do we believe will happen in the future?
While it sounds cliche, 2020 has really been a year unlike most others. It’s not just an election year where we have been forced to stay at home. Many different cities were on lockdown for extended periods of time because of the riots that were going on. A lot of people had their businesses destroyed by angry protestors. There are some things that have been happening this year that we definitely hope will end up blowing over, but we also hope that this year and all the various events that have been happening is something we will eventually be able to look back at and laugh at given just how absurd all the different things have been. We surely don’t hope that there will be another pandemic that disrupts the supply chains and makes it extremely hard to get PPE, which most contractors rely on in order to be able to safely do their job.
While it is obvious that there has been a need for the PPE equipment in the hospital communities, and that there were people that were believed to be very exposed, it doesn’t change the fact that it has halted a lot of other things, and that we, among others, were having issues doing things. It was difficult to get 3M products and masks were very limited in their supplies.
At the very same time, the EPA were very questionable in their ability to communicate, and it wasn’t until fairly late that they released a statement to the public regarding how they would treat various issues. On top of that, they also chose to release a suggested change to the lead limits at the same time as everything else has been going on, and it is our impression that they may have chosen the timing very strategically because they knew that everyone would be too busy with everything else to realize what they were doing. Whether or not you believe that it is good for the lead limits to be lowered, it doesn’t change that we here at Check4Lead do not believe that the EPA has done a very good job throughout this entire mess of a situation.
Throughout this chaotic time, there are a lot of things that have been changing, and while you may not have heard about them if you aren’t situated where they are relevant, we believe that things will be changing with the EPA when things cool down again. For one, we believe that the changes to the lead limits in abatement work constitutes a desire to tackle the problem head on again and have another round of fines go out to companies that aren’t abiding by the RRP regulations.
There are still lots of reports you can find on the internet about how lead poisoning is still significant and something that families should be worried about, and while the current times are crazy, it doesn’t change that there are probably a bunch of companies out there that aren’t playing by the rules. We believe that there’s a significant portion of companies that don’t document and test like they are supposed to, and we believe that the EPA’s proposed change to the various limits constitutes a desire to go after the companies again, when they can’t receive the negative PR from not social distancing and going to meet companies.
At the same time, we have also seen additional initiatives being rolled out on a city level that is another reason why we are expecting for things to change when they calm down again. For one, New York has been very active throughout this entire thing, and their major rolled out a bunch of initiatives that will aggressively start going after landlords, among others, if they aren’t ensuring that due process is being used for restoration work. New York naturally has a lot of old buildings, and significantly more old buildings than probably most other cities, but if the rules that were rolled out there might be rolled out to other cities, that could cause major changes in the desires for companies and landlords to abide by the rules.
We additionally track online when there are companies that end up getting fined for not following the RRP rules, and it has been awfully quiet lately. In fact so quiet that we haven’t seen any reports of fines coming out within the last 6 months, which definitely isn’t going to continue being the case.
Perhaps the EPA is simply strategizing as to how they should better implement initiatives that will help increase compliance, preparing themselves for the situation that will inherently follow Covid-19. We do believe that many, and big fines will follow in the future. Although New York is a very unique city, it’s no more than 12 years since the EPA originally introduced RRP, while you have to go all the way back to 1977 to get back to the year when the paint was banned. While the EPA may have revised the RRP from time to time since then, the reality of the matter is that there are still millions of homes out there that have the heavy metal in them, and that it is causing elevated lead levels in blood for many families, including kids, why we don’t believe that this unnatural slow down will continue. We believe that we may also be at a point in time where it has now been sufficiently long since the RRP was introduced that they may need to focus on new campaigns to bring it back to people’s minds, as many of the contractors that are operating and working now may not even have been working back when the legislation was initially instated.
What’s the situation with Covid?
We already mentioned that we haven’t been impressed by the work that the EPA has been doing in terms of educating contractors. We also don’t think that they have done a very good job in making the information very easy to read, including whether or not they would allow leniency in lapsed certifications or not. There are sites across the country where the certification renewal process has basically been halted as it hasn’t been possible to do the in-person training, but it hasn’t been all too clear exactly how strict the EPA would be in enforcing any lapses in certification caused by coronavirus. Admittedly we did make a resource on coronavirus and how we read the information that was shared by the EPA, and we too were confused.
We read the entire memorandum, and after we did so we took a nap because of how boring it was to read. We did make this guide that we encourage everyone on our site to read, but we should also make sure to tell you that it is still just our opinion on the topic.
If the legislation that was passed in NYC is any indication as to what the EPA will be doing when things quiet down a little bit, we will be in for a lot of fines being handed out, perhaps starting as early as the fall, although it could easily end up being a thing that may just start in the beginning of the new year, 2021! While 2020 may not have been boring at all, besides all the limitations that have been put on various businesses, we do believe a lot of lead paint testing work will be coming up, and the initiatives that are being introduced are undoubtedly going to help consumers.
Is there anything else that you may want us to add on Check4Lead?
Check4Lead was recently featured on a bunch of major financial news sites, and we are excited for all the exposure we have been able to gather. However, we also realize that now is not the time to slow down, but rather pick up the pace, double down and actually this issue head on. What that means is that we’re investing a lot of money into improving the platform, continue to increase the focus on the matter, continue to do various things that will help both the average consumer and the contractor be more so inclined to stay compliant, and collectively work towards a safer future for the American people. However, we do want the input from contractors as well. We want to know what bothers you. We want to know how to better create the resources that you’re longing for. We want to help create the resources that help convince your customers that they ought to be willing to pay the additional money that it might cost hiring you, the RRP certified contractor, rather than the person who doesn’t have the necessary certifications. But we need your help to make sure that we are focusing our efforts the right places. Tell us what it is that you want us to help you do, and in turn we would be proud if that means we end up being capable of earning your business in return as well when you need your lead testing supplies.
How does that sound for you?