Florida Focused on Education and Outreach of Lead Safe RuleMay 3rd, 2011 by Editor
While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has implemented its Lead Safe Renovation Repair and Painting Rule (RRP), some states have opted to institute their own programs. Florida stakeholders discussed whether or not it should join those ranks, though for now participants are focused on education and outreach.
In January of this year, the EPA held a meeting in Tallahassee to discuss the issue with the state, and invited interested parties to attend. The U.S. EPA currently administers the RRP Program in Florida, including certification and enforcement. Florida at this time is not pursuing a separate state-run RRP program, according to Jessica Hammonds, Office of Communications, Florida Department of Health.
“Florida is working with stakeholders to raise awareness of the U.S. EPA’s RRP rule. There are monthly conferences calls with stakeholders to increase outreach and education activities about RRP, and facilitate an ongoing conversation with stakeholders about RRP in Florida and their feelings about the possibility of a state run program,” she says.
This latest conference call occurred in April and the focus was to discuss outreach efforts within the state to educate the industry about the RRP. The call was facilitated by Laura Gestaut, MPH. She serves as the policy and lead safety project manager for Florida’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Healthy Homes Program at the Florida Department of Health.
Gestaut started the meeting by briefing participants on the recent efforts of the EPA including the following:
1. New test kits, D-Lead, are approved and now available at a number of retailers;
2. EPA’s lead website has an updated frequently asked questions section; and
3. EPA’s Region 4 lead website has information for filing tips and complaints.
Regarding outreach, Hammonds says this centers around targeting those who are not certified and following up on tips/complaints.
Stakeholder groups have been very helpful increasing awareness of the RRP rule through various outreach and education efforts. They continue to distribute emails, include articles in newsletters and provide links to the EPA’s RRP site on their websites, she says.
“Audiences for outreach have primarily been the professional communities which are impacted by this rule,” she adds. “We have also worked with county health departments, the Department of Community Affairs and local building departments, to name a few, to increase awareness of the rule. In addition, we have worked to increase the awareness of the general public about the rule, especially families with small children.”
Hammonds says that from December 2009 to present, the state has educated more than 21,000 people in Florida about RRP through direct efforts and the efforts of our partners. This number includes individuals who have received emails or newsletters including information about RRP, attended events about RRP, or participated in Lead Week 2010 activities which included information about RRP.
Rob Martin, vice president of ERCLEAD Inc., an EPA RRP accredited trainer, believes much more needs to be done when it comes to outreach, and he has participated in some of these discussions.
“If there’s been any worthwhile outreach I’ve yet to hear about it from anyone, and we’ve trained hundreds of certified renovators,” says Martin. “They either heard about RRP from another contractor, or took the class because their prime contractor [for example Lowe’s] required it. Almost no one heard about the RRP from any other source that I’m aware of, and certainly not from the EPA or the state of Florida.”
As far as tips that are given to the EPA, Martin says he would like to see some fines for not complying with the rule. Martin says an individual recently attended one of his lead safe renovator classes simply because an EPA official showed up on his jobsite and said he had 30 days to become certified.
“So there is some form of enforcement but more needs to be done,” he says.