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New Haven Property Owner Agrees to Pay Penalty and Reduce Risk of Lead Poisoning in 31 Apartments to Settle EPA Lead Disclosure Case

Release Date: 01/26/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865

For Immediate Release: January 26, 2005; Release # sr050104

BOSTON - Ms. Ardelle Cowie and the Chelsea Company of New Haven, Conn. will pay $8,116 and will reduce the risk of lead poisoning by replacing over 200 old windows in 31 apartments to settle EPA claims that the property owner and her management company violated lead paint disclosure laws at her New Haven rental properties. The window replacements will cost approximately $80,000.

The violations were identified during an EPA inspection in July 2003, and were included in a complaint filed last September. EPA claimed that neither the building owner nor her management company were consistently complying with federal law regarding notification of tenants about health hazards posed from exposure to lead.

"Lead poisoning is a serious health threat for children in New England, because a large amount of housing is older and can contain lead paint," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "It is critically important that renters and buyers get the information they need to protect themselves and their children from potential exposure to lead paint, especially if they are pregnant or have young children."

Once Cowie learned of the lead disclosure laws through EPA’s action, she immediately acknowledged the importance of the laws and worked cooperatively with EPA to reach a settlement.
The purpose of the Disclosure Rule is to provide lessees and purchasers of pre-1978 housing with enough information about lead-based paint in general and known lead-based paint hazards in the specific housing, so that a lessee or purchaser can make an informed decision about whether to lease or purchase the housing.

Federal law requires that sellers and landlords selling or renting housing built before 1978 must:

    • provide a lead hazard information pamphlet that can help renters and buyers protect themselves from lead poisoning ;
    • include lead notification language in sales and rental forms;
    • disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the living unit and provide available reports to buyers or renters;
    • allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers;
    • and maintain records certifying compliance with federal laws for a period of three years
Federal lead laws also require that contractors notify occupants and provide them an EPA pamphlet before conducting renovation activities that could disturb lead based paint.

Under the terms of the EPA settlement, Cowie agreed to replace approximately 209 old windows in several of her New Haven buildings. The buildings were all constructed before 1930. Old windows are a major culprit in residential lead poisonings because the action of opening and closing windows can abrade lead-based paint on the windows, creating lead-containing dust. Work in multi-bedroom and larger units will be done first since these units are more likely to be rented by families with children.

Childhood lead exposure is a particularly acute problem for urban, minority children of low-income families who live in older housing. In New Haven, well over half of the available housing was constructed before 1978, and almost one-quarter of residents are below the federal poverty line.

The New Haven Department of Public Health indicates that approximately 35,000, of New Haven’s 45,000 rental units contain lead paint. CDC data from 2002 reveals that there were more than 400 validated lead poisonings documented in New Haven for children between one and six years of age – the highest rate of validated childhood lead poisonings in Connecticut.

Children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning, both because of a higher probability of ingestion of lead paint particles (including lead contaminated dust) and because of a higher degree of vulnerability due to children’s young developing bodies. Elevated lead levels can trigger learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing and even brain damage. Pregnant women are also susceptible because lead exposure before or during pregnancy can alter fetal development and cause miscarriages.

For more information on lead paint disclosure requirements and other issues regarding lead, visit the agency's web site at For additional information on the lead-based paint disclosure rule visit: Exit EPA

Related Information:
Lead Poisoning, Lead Paint, etc.