Renovators, Contractors Fined for Paint Violations
As a result of being found in violation of lead-based paint safety regulations, 22 residential home renovators and contractors from Idaho and Washington recently settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 10.
The fines are a result of the EPA’s compliance and enforcement program having conducted 137 inspections of home renovation contractors. According to the EPA, the number of inspections is the highest the region has completed in previous years.
Half of the inspections were reportedly carried out in communities with environmental justice concerns.
“Lead exposure has disproportionately affected communities of color and low-income residents for far too long,” said EPA Region 10 Regional Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “Our actions are helping to protect families, workers, and customers while increasing accountability and transparency.
“EPA’s efforts are helping to raise community awareness and ensure companies comply with certification, training, and safety requirements to reduce lead-based paint health hazards.”
Under the terms of the settlements, 22 companies from Idaho and Washington agreed to pay civil penalties and to certify that they are complying with the Renovation, Repair and Painting certification requirements prior to offering and performing renovations, as required by the RRP Rule.
Companies whose enforcement cases were concluded this year in EPA’s Region 10 include:
The recent cases were highlighted by the EPA as part of this year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, which took place from Oct. 23-29, and Children’s Health Month, to raise awareness about children’s environmental health, including the dangers and potential health impacts of lead.
Earlier in the week, the EPA shared that the Agency conducted 81 compliance monitoring activities, including providing educational materials to commercial renovators to promote compliance with the RRP Rule, and issued 13 Notices of Noncompliance to contractors.
The EPA also reached agreements with eight contractors in Colorado and Montana to settle violations of the Rule resulting in over $30,000 in penalties.
Contractors settling RRP Rule violations in Colorado include Larsen Development Company, Colorado Quality Painting, A+ Handyman Home Improvement, Specialty Construction, Nehemiah General Contractors, and Capital Roofing and Restoration. Contractors settling RRP violations in Montana include Pella Windows and Doors and Paramount Construction and Remodeling.
In its news release, the EPA shared that these contractors’ violations varied, but included failures to obtain EPA lead-safe firm certifications, failures to maintain records documenting compliance and failures to employ lead-safe work practices when working on pre-1978 homes.
All cases have since resolved certification and training deficiencies and made commitments to future compliance.
EPA partners with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to raise awareness about lead exposure and lead poisoning by providing resources for the public to use to encourage preventive actions.
Just days after releasing information about the latest fines issues to renovators and contractors in Idaho and Washington for lead-based paint violations, the EPA highlighted several federal enforcement actions completed from October 2021 through September 2022, as well as future planned investigations.
The actions taken by the Agency are meant to ensure that renovation contractors, landlords and realtors comply with rules that protect the public from exposure to lead from lead paint. The cases are also noted to highlight the range of the Agency’s work, including:
“Because lead-based paint is the most common source of elevated blood lead levels in U.S. children, EPA is taking action against those who violate federal lead-based paint regulations and ensuring the public understands the danger of this hazard,” said Larry Starfield, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
“The enforcement actions EPA took this past year send a clear message that EPA is committed to enforcing regulations designed to protect the public from lead-based paint exposure.”
The cases highlighted by the EPA for the year are as follows:
In support of EPA’s Lead Strategy, EPA is also focused on compliance with lead-based paint regulations in family housing, including on military installations. EPA sent several information request letters and subpoenas to housing companies to assess compliance with the regulations, and will take appropriate enforcement action as needed.
Recent Lead Exposure Initiative
At the beginning of October, the EPA announced the official launch of a nationwide training and outreach initiative focused on reducing childhood lead exposure.
Taking place for a second year, the Enhancing Lead-Safe Work Practices through Education and Outreach (ELSWPEO) program is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance environmental justice.
“This initiative demonstrates how collaboration between national, state, local and Tribal governments and organizations can protect underserved communities from exposure to toxic chemicals like lead,” said Michal Freedhoff, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, at the time. “Many communities across the U.S. are still at risk for lead exposure, and we are committed to lowering and preventing it.”
According to an Agency-issued news release, the EPA will offer free training on lead-safe work practices, which include RRP lead-safe certification training and Lead Awareness Curriculum sessions to contractors in 10 communities across the nation and its territories.
As part of the program, two sessions will be offered. These include a Lead Awareness Curriculum Train-the-Trainer session, which is designed to equip community leaders to educate their communities about lead and lead exposure, as well as actions to reduce and prevent childhood exposure. An Understanding Lead session will educate community members interested in learning more about lead, lead exposure and actions to reduce their exposure.
The communities chosen for involvement due to having known lead exposure issues and a demonstrated need for RRP-certified contractors include: Stratford, Connecticut; Loíza, Puerto Rico; Arecibo, Puerto Rico; Newark, New Jersey; Portsmouth, Virginia; Miami, Florida; Toledo, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; Billings, Montana (with a focus on tribal members); and Sacramento, California.
Last year, the program was reported to complete ELSWPEO outreach in 11 communities. In total, the EPA helped to certify 282 contractors in lead-safe work practices and educated 245 community leaders and 170 community members.
The initiative will complement the historic investment of $4 billion to reduce lead exposure from President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law and support the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensuring all Americans can live in healthy homes.