EPA Defaults Renovators for Paint Violations
In a news release issued on Tuesday (Jan. 10), an official from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that two home renovation companies would be required to pay civil penalties for violating the federal Toxic Substances Control Act.
“Lead is a pernicious contaminant that is particularly harmful to children, and renovation companies that violate lead-based paint regulations must be held accountable,” said David Cozad, Director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “EPA will vigorously pursue recalcitrant violators who refuse to resolve noncompliance in a cooperative way.”
According to reports, both Superior Restoration and Construction LLC of Overland Park, Kansas, and Askins Development Group LLC of St. Louis were alleged of failing to comply with regulations intended to reduce the hazards of lead-based paint exposure resulting from renovations.
In addition, each renovator alleged of these violations was reported for failing to respond to multiple attempts by the EPA to engage in discussions to resolve the issues. Both companies also failed to answer administrative complaints issued by the Agency.
The EPA shares that lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint in homes built prior to 1978 is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children. Lead dust can be generated when lead-based paint deteriorates or is disturbed—a likely occurrence during renovation efforts.
Children and infants are especially vulnerable to lead-based paint exposure, as their growing bodies can absorb more lead compared to full-grown adults. As a result, children’s and infants’ brains and nervous systems can be negatively affected by lead. Exposure has also resulted in irreversible and lifelong health effects.
After reviewing the case, EPA Regional Judicial Officer Karina Borromeo found that both companies were liable by default for multiple violations.
These violations included failure to obtain EPA renovator certification, failure to assign a certified renovator prior to performing renovations on housing built before 1978, and violation of multiple work practice requirements, which could result in exposure to hazardous lead dust.
As a result of Borromeo’s conclusion, Superior Restoration and Construction LLC has been ordered to pay $44,680 in civil penalties and Askins Development Group LLC has been ordered to pay $42,003.
EPA Efforts to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure
In October 2022, 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 advancing environmental justice.
The announcement arrived as the EPA observed Children’s Health Month and was preparing for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week later this month.
According to the news release from the time, the EPA planned to offer free training on lead-safe work practices, which would include renovation, repair and painting (RRP) lead-safe certification training and Lead Awareness Curriculum sessions to contractors in 10 communities across the nation and its territories.
The communities chosen for involvement due to having known lead exposure issues and a demonstrated need for RRP-certified contractors included: 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.
The initiative complemented the historic investment of $4 billion to reduce lead exposure from President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law and supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensuring all Americans can live in healthy homes.
Shortly after announcing the training and outreach initiative, the EPA shared that it was working to reduce childhood lead exposure through improved compliance with the lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule.
According to the EPA, in 2022 (from January-October) 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.
More on the EPA’s efforts to reduce childhood lead exposure and the associated health impacts can be found on its lead website, here.