The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken the rare step of fining a San Francisco based painting contractor $10,000 for failing to disclose information about lead-based paint hazards before beginning work on a residence that was likely to contain lead paint due to the age of the structure.
Federal law requires that anyone charging for renovation on multi-family housing built before 1978 provide the owner and occupants with information about lead-based paint hazards before starting work.
However, EPA investigators said, Fine Custom Painting Inc. began scraping, sanding and stripping paint from a residence before informing residents about potential lead-paint risks.
Although exposures to lead have declined significantly since lead was removed from most paint and gasoline, they have not been eliminated. People living in old homes with peeling paint and/or in properties near freeways (due to lead being deposited in soil) continue to be at increased risk of lead exposure.
The EPA has a lead-based paint program that provides information about lead-based paint hazards. In 2008, the EPA issued additional regulations to require further protections during renovations.
Although the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Final Rule (40 CFR 745) will not be fully implemented until April 2010, contractors are already required to provide owners of homes, schools and child-care facilities built before 1978 with lead hazard information in the form of the EPA’s new booklet, Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools.
Lead is a heavy metal and a known neurotoxin. Exposure to lead has been shown to have serious health consequences. Even at low levels of exposure lead has been shown to cause decreased cognitive development (including decreased intelligence) and problems during pregnancy including intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) and preterm birth. At very high levels of exposure lead can cause death.
More information is available at www.epa.gov/lead.