New federal regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, aimed at curbing exposure to dust that might contain lead paint, will result in federal certification of many building-maintenance specialties and step up pressure against informal unlicensed suppliers of handyman and carpentry services:
On April 22, the Environmental Protection Agency is slated to enact rules requiring EPA certification for contractors working on homes built before lead paint was banned in 1978. The rule, aimed at limiting exposure to lead, applies to carpenters, plumbers, heating and air conditioning workers, window installers and others.
Two-thirds of U.S. homes and apartments (78 million out of 120 million) were built before 1978, says Calli Schmidt of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), citing Census Bureau data. She says half of the pre-1978 homes don’t contain lead but the rule, depending on implementation, might apply to all of them.
Making it unlawful to practice home renovation without federal certification will assuredly reduce the supply and raise the cost of renovations, the extent of the shift varying perhaps from one community to another depending on how professionalized the relevant markets already are. One result of shifting the cost curve will be to encourage teardowns of otherwise sound housing stock. Some other properties that remain occupied will simply go without renovations and repairs, with unpredictable (but probably not good) consequences for health and safety. [USA Today via Nick Gillespie, Reason] As for the prospect that the federal government will apply any sort of common-sense appraisal of the actual benefits of spending millions to avoid infinitesimal or nonexistent lead exposures, I’ll believe that when they fix CPSIA. More: WSJ (sub-only)