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EPA Trains Lead-Paint Focus on NE

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

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NASHUA, NH—Part carrot and part stick, a new federal approach to lead-paint enforcement is playing out in New England.

The current focus is on Nashua, NH, where the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 1 has announced a new compliance and enforcement push. The city is one of the state's worst in lead-based paint hazards.

The initiative began in April with a letter from EPA to more than 300 home renovation and painting contractors, property management companies, and landlords in and around Nashua.

The letter outlines steps that EPA is taking to increase compliance by those parties with the federal Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

LeadInHomes
EPA

Nearly 40 years after lead paint was banned, it remains in millions of U.S. homes.

The RRP rule, which took effect in April 2010, requires lead-safe training and certification of individual renovators and firms working in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities.

Heads-Up and Help

EPA hopes that the letter will serve as a pointed reminder and heads-up to firms and individuals who are not yet complying with the RRP law.

With the letter comes a carrot: an EPA offer of compliance assistance to those who request it. Those who decline the offer and do not comply will eventually see the stick: enforcement.

Fines for RRP violations can run into thousands of dollars per day.

This month, EPA lead inspectors have been inspecting numerous renovation, painting and property management companies in the Nashua area to assess compliance with the rule.

The agency also is looking at the compliance with the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule (Disclosure Rule), which requires landlords, property management companies, real estate agencies, and sellers to inform potential tenants and buyers of the presence of lead paint and of lead-paint hazards in pre-1978 housing.

LeadPaint
©iStock.com / Glenn Bo

Nashua, NH, was chosen for targeted compliance assistance and enforcement for its high level of old housing stock and large number of children in poverty, the EPA said.

Because New England has so much older housing stock, lead paint is still frequently present in buildings that were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned, EPA notes.

"We're doing a lot of outreach to these areas," Deegan said. "These are urban areas that have a high percentage of old housing stock and lead paint lingering under layers of paint."

Public health data in those cities shows "higher amounts of children with elevated blood levels," Deegan said.

EPA has identified Nashua as a high-risk community for lead poisoning, because of the high percentage of housing units built before 1978 (69 percent), the proportion of the population under age 6, and the number of children living in poverty.

Leveling the Playing Field

EPA wants to "make sure" that "the type of workers who would be subject to this law" are aware of it, Deegan said.

LeadBrochures RenovateRight
EPA

EPA is also looking at building owners' and landlords' compliance in providing disclosure brochures like these to tenants and buyers.

Part of the goal, he adds, is to "help level the playing field" by protecting contractors who do the work of compliance.

The letter campaign was not selective, but was a blanket mailing across the area, Deegan said.

Last year's campaign in New Haven resulted in four enforcement actions against home renovators with proposed penalties up to $67,000, EPA said.

Meanwhile, about 73 firms in the area were brought into compliance without enforcement actions, EPA said.

   

Tagged categories: EPA; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Lead paint abatement; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); North America; Residential Construction

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