EPA Acts to Reduce Childhood Lead-Based Paint Exposure in New York and New Jersey
NEW YORK – Emphasizing efforts to protect children’s health and raise awareness about the health risks associated with childhood lead exposure during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 is highlighting 12 federal enforcement actions taken this fiscal year in New York and New Jersey. By ensuring that entities like renovation contractors, landlords, property managers, realtors and others comply with rules that protect the public from exposure to lead from lead-based paint, EPA can address a leading source of lead exposure for children across the nation. Exposure to lead dust, chips or debris from lead-based paint can pose serious risks to human health, particularly for young children. Earlier this year, EPA announced tighter standards for lead in dust on floors and window sills to protect children from the harmful effects of lead exposure.
"When businesses and individuals break these laws and cut corners to save time or money, our families, and especially our children, suffer,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “Reducing childhood lead exposure and addressing associated health impacts is one of EPA’s top priorities and we are committed to tightening and enforcing standards that were made to protect our homes and families.”
From October 2018 through September 2019, EPA’s Region 2 office entered into a total of 5 consent agreements, 4 expedited settlement agreements, 2 judicial orders, and issued one administrative complaint and with entities operating in New York and New Jersey. While neither New York nor New Jersey have been delegated the Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Rule or the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, New Jersey has delegated authority to implement and enforce the Lead-based Paint Activities (Abatement) Rule. EPA’s compliance agreements and complaint include:
- High Rise Build & Design Inc. and Somattie Surujnarine (NY) were each found in contempt of court for failure to pay court-ordered penalties of $500 and failure to comply with a TSCA subpoena. The $500 penalty, issued May 14, 2019, began to accrue a per diem sanction 7 days after the order until they came into compliance. As of Sept. 9, 2019, neither High Rise nor Surujnarine had complied with the subpoena; each penalty accrued to $48,000 and will continue to accrue until compliance is met.
- Airtek Environmental (NY) agreed to pay a $26,000 penalty in an expedited settlement agreement for failure to submit timely pre and post-training notifications for students taking the Renovator Initial Courses for EPA’s RRP Rule.
- Total Change, Inc. (NY) agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty to settle violations of the RRP Rule, including: failing to obtain lead-safe firm certification prior to performing lead-based paint renovations; failure to keep records of renovation compliance; and failure to contain waste from renovation activities to prevent the release of dust and debris.
- Panther Siding and Windows (NY) agreed to pay a $14,753 penalty to settle violations of the RRP Rule at 12 locations, including: failure to provide property owners with the EPA-approved -lead-hazard information pamphlet; failure to establish and maintain records of compliance for the renovations; and failure to assign a certified renovator to renovations.
- Big Apple Occupation Safety Corp (NY) agreed to pay a $9,000 penalty in an expedited settlement agreement for failure to submit timely post-training notifications for 62 students taking the Renovator Initial Courses for EPA’s RRP Rule.
- Abatement Solutions, LLC (NY) agreed to pay a $7,800 penalty to settle violations of the Abatement Rule, including failure to notify EPA of lead-based paint activities.
- SEG-LBP, LLC (NY) agreed to pay a $8,240 penalty to settle violations of the Abatement Rule, including failure to notify EPA of lead-based paint activities and failure to develop an occupant protection plan.
- A.G. Johnson Consulting LLC (NY) agreed to pay a $5,000 penalty in an expedited settlement agreement for failure to submit timely post-training notifications for 22 students taking the Renovator Initial Courses for EPA’s RRP Rule.
- Topmost Design & Construction (NY) agreed to pay a $3,100 penalty to settle violations of the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, including: failing to obtain lead-safe firm certification prior to performing lead-based paint renovations; failure to confine dust and debris to work area; and failing to establish and maintain records or make records available.
- Richie Roma Home Improvement (NY) agreed to pay a $1,000 penalty in an expedited settlement agreement for failure to obtain initial firm certification EPA under EPA’s RRP Rule prior to engaging in renovation activities.
- C&W Painting and Carpentry, Inc. (NJ) was issued a complaint and Notice of Opportunity for Hearing with a proposed penalty of $15,600 for several violations of the RRP Rule, including: failure to obtain initial firm certification; failure to contain debris, dust and waste; failure to provide on-the-job training to uncertified workers; and failure to retain required records of compliance.
Each year, EPA Region 2 receives hundreds of referrals from local health departments and complaints from the public concerning unsafe work practices during renovations or lead abatements. Property owners and landlord’s failure to provide the required lead disclosure are also referred to EPA. In response, Region 2 conducts approximately 100 compliance monitoring activities of contractors and property managers per year, including on-site inspections and off-site records reviews. In 2019, EPA Region 2 provided over 300 contractors and property owners/mangers with compliance assistance packages.
Regulations promulgated under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (LHRA) apply to most housing and child-occupied facilities built before 1978. TSCA’s RRP Rule, Lead-based Paint Activities Rule and LHRA’s Section 1018 Disclosure Rule require lead-safe work practices and disclosure of information about lead-based paint, among other things. Young children are most susceptible to the effects of lead, with lead-based paint being the biggest risk of exposure. Risks of lead poisoning include neurologic impairments such as behavioral or learning issues, slowed growth and, in rare cases, seizures and death. A blood-lead test is the only way to determine if a child has an elevated blood-lead level. Parents who think their child has been in contact with lead should contact their child's health care provider.
NLPPW is an annual “call to action” aimed at bringing together families, individuals, community-based organizations, state, tribal, and local governments, and others, to protect current and future generations from exposures to lead-containing paint and dust, contaminated drinking water and soil, and encourage preventative actions to decrease childhood exposure during the week and beyond.
Since the 1970s, the United States has made tremendous progress in lowering children’s blood lead levels. Lead exposure, particularly at higher doses, continues to pose a significant health and safety threat to children, preventing them from reaching the fullest potential of their health, their intellect, and their future. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.
To view the Progress Report on the Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts, visit: https://www.epa.gov/leadactionplanimplementation/progress-report-federal-action-plan-reduce-childhood-lead-exposures-and
To see EPA’s Enforcement Alert on lead-based paint: https://wcms.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-alert-lead
Members of the public can help protect our environment by identifying and reporting environmental violations. Learn more here: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/report-environmental-violation-general-information
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