EPA Begins Effort to Reduce Children’s Exposure to Lead Paint in Lewiston/Auburn, Maine Area
BOSTON – EPA is beginning an effort to improve compliance with laws that protect children from lead paint poisoning by sending certified letters this month to about 400 home renovation and painting contractors, property management companies and landlords in and around Lewiston/Auburn, Maine.
Under the initiative, EPA will provide educational materials on lead paint rules to affected companies. EPA will also outline steps the Agency is taking to increase compliance on the part of these entities with the federal lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act. EPA’s RRP Rule became effective in April 2010.
“Children’s exposure to lead continues to be a significant health concern here in New England,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “This is especially true for kids who live in underprivileged areas and other places where there is a large amount of older housing stock that hasn’t been renovated and lead paint has not been removed. Our initiative in Lewiston/Auburn is designed such that EPA will work closely with our local, state and federal partners to address a serious public health problem affecting children.”
EPA continues to prioritize resources at both the national and regional level to educate companies and inform the public about federal lead paint rules. EPA’s RRP Rule is designed to prevent children’s exposure to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards resulting from renovation, repair and painting projects in pre-1978 residences, schools and other buildings where children are present. If lead painted surfaces are to be disturbed at a job site, the Rule requires individual renovators to complete an initial 8-hour accredited training course and the company or firm that they work for to be certified by EPA. These baseline requirements are critical to ensuring that companies take responsibility for their employees following proper lead safe work practices by containing and managing lead dust and chips created during such projects. Further, the Rule requires that specific records be created and maintained in order to document compliance with the law.
Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause lifelong impacts including developmental impairment, learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems. Because New England has a lot of older housing stock, lead paint is still frequently present in buildings that were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned. According to the most recent data available from the Maine Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Lewiston/Auburn has the highest number of incidences in the state of children under the age of six with elevated blood lead levels.
Following outreach efforts in May, over the course of several weeks in June, EPA will conduct inspections of renovation, painting and property management companies in the area to assess compliance with the RRP Rule. EPA may also assess compliance with the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule, which requires landlords, property management companies, real estate agencies, and sellers to inform potential lessees and purchasers of the presence of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 housing. This rule ensures that potential tenants and home buyers are receiving the information necessary to protect themselves and their families from lead-based paint hazards prior to being obligated to rent or purchase pre-1978 housing. The inspections may be followed up with enforcement which may include the issuance of fines.
Enforcing lead paint notification and worksite standards helps to level the playing field for companies complying with the law, as well as helps to provide a safer and healthier environment for children. EPA is coordinating with many state and local agencies, including several municipal departments in both cities, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and several non-governmental organizations such as Healthy Androscoggin.
EPA engaged in similar efforts in the New Haven, Conn. area in 2014 and in the Nashua, N.H. area in 2015. As a result of these efforts, EPA has educated thousands of individuals either engaged in this type of work or impacted by it, settled numerous formal and informal enforcement actions, and levied fines against the most serious violators. Importantly, because of the compliance assistance provided, many renovation firms have stepped forward to become newly certified and have sent their workers to be trained.
For more information:
Although lead paint has been identified as the primary source of childhood lead poisoning, drinking water, soil, air, and consumer products are other potential sources of lead. Please visit this EPA website to help protect your family from exposures to lead: https://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-exposures-lead
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