WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced 16 enforcement actions for violations of the lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP). A priority for EPA’s enforcement program is to protect children, and others, from exposure to lead dust that can cause lead poisoning by ensuring that renovators follow the RRP and other lead rules. Lead exposure can cause a range of adverse health effects, from behavioral disorders and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing.
"At least 4 million households with children have lead paint, and over a half million children have elevated levels of lead in their blood. But lead exposure is preventable when you know what to look for and what to do," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "These settlements serve as an important reminder of the importance of using lead-safe practices to protect the health of our children and prevent lead poisoning."
The RRP rule requires that contractors that work on pre-1978 dwellings and child-occupied facilities be trained and certified to use lead-safe work practices. This ensures that common renovation and repair activities like sanding, cutting and replacing windows are done in ways that minimize dangerous lead dust. EPA finalized the RRP rule in 2008 and the rule took effect on April 22, 2010.
The enforcement actions listed below address many serious RRP Rule violations that could result in harm to human health. These actions include cases where the respondent failed to follow lead-safe work practices. Lead-safe work practices are critical to reducing exposure to lead-based paint hazards and, thereby, avoiding potential lead poisoning. In at least five actions, children lived at the property; thus, the respondent directly put children at risk of exposure to lead-based paint hazards. Also, in several cases, respondents failed to obtain firm certification prior to performing or offering to perform renovation activities on pre-1978 homes. The RRP Rule’s certification requirements ensure that firms and renovators know the RRP Rule, and how to employ lead-safe work practices. Other alleged violations include the respondent’s failure to provide EPA's "Renovate Right" pamphlet to homeowners and occupants. The pamphlet is an important mechanism for helping homeowners and tenants understand the risks of lead-based paint hazards, and how best to minimize these risks to protect themselves and their families.
The 16 enforcement actions include 13 administrative settlements and 3 filed administrative complaints. The settlements advance EPA’s mission to protect human health because, under each settlement, the respondent was required to certify that it has come into compliance with the RRP Rule – and compliance results in greater protection for children and others in the future. EPA also assessed civil penalties. When formulating penalties, EPA must evaluate an entity’s ability to pay a penalty and to remain in business. Accordingly, the Agency assessed a total of $53,792 in civil penalties. In the 3 administrative complaints that EPA has filed, the Agency seeks civil penalties up to the statutory maximum of $37,500 per violation.