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I Have A History With Lead-Based Paint


It started about the time the EPA decided to get serious about enforcement of the RRP rule. I received a very official letter from the EPA saying that they would be at my office to inspect my documentation of a project that I was in the middle of rebuilding. Terrified, I prepared for the meeting knowing full well that I had complied with the rules. I met an EPA representative from Region 10 at my office and we hit it off. I wanted to help fellow contractors in my NARI group with navigating the Lead-Based Paint rules as well.

In the next few years, I established a business with friends Gail and Carter Duke called Lead Locators. Our purpose was to educate and offer lead testing support for fellow contractors. We created reports that were second to none in the country doing our thing, we became Lead Based Paint Risk Assessors with the EPA and bought 2 XRF guns that could do non-distructive tests and had a good thing going but it never really got off the ground. Most contractors decided to do a less expensive test available for the general public. The lead test swabs were available and had no shelf life, they always worked until I got a batch recently that could not be verified.

Was The Chemical Flawed or Was The Card Flawed?

I called 3M and could never get an answer but they offered to refund me with a receipt. There was no tracking number to pull a batch. What was going on? This is supposed to be a scientific test.

Last Thursday I received an email from the EPA. It stated that 3M lead test swabs are no longer available. Shocked, I continued to read. Nothing has changed. Pre-1978 homes are still considered leaded until proven otherwise. I had a supply of swabs but it wouldn’t last forever.

I called 3M the next morning to figure out what happened. After I broke through the wall of NO, I CAN’T GIVE YOU ANY INFORMATION, I got to a guy who explained that Marketing told him that 3M would no longer be making the product. Management had said that there were “supply chain issues”. Oh, I said, I could understand it a few years ago but not now. What a lame excuse I thought. Satisfied that I had heard the party line, I went into solution mode. Could I buy the division? Is it for sale?

3M Bought Hybrivet in 2010

There was a monopoly on the swabs so I figured that prices would go up but I never figured that they would stop production. There is an EPA-approved plan B on the market. It is called D-Lead. That product is flawed in my opinion but is the only other test available besides XRF testing.

Plan B

Most See Confusion, I See Opportunity

I am working on bringing a substitute for the Lead Swabs to market. It is a multi-pronged attack. We will see what happens. The market is there. Time to strike while the iron is hot. The trail to the truth is going to be long and hard. The EPA has layers of bureaucracy that I may never get through. 3M may be even harder. I have been warned that it would take years to get the EPA to approve anything and honestly they don’t have any interest in approving another test. Their position is that all paint is lead base in homes older than 1978. It is the contractors who need the test.

I can only imagine how this will force the practice of demolition in those homes underground.

I have been looking for opportunities to leave my mark on the industry. Perhaps I can build a better mouse trap. A test kit that works for contractors. Is this idea at odds with the EPA? Who knows. Time will tell.

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