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EPA Enforcement Actions Help Protect Vulnerable Communities from Lead-Based Paint Health Hazards

10/23/2019
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov )

WASHINGTON (October 23, 2019) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it completed 117 federal enforcement actions from October 2018 through September 2019 to ensure that entities such as renovation contractors, landlords, realtors and others comply with rules that protect the public from exposure to lead from lead-based paint. Exposure to lead dust, chips or debris from lead-based paint can pose serious risks to human health, particularly for young children.

“EPA’s work to enforce federal lead paint laws helps protect children all over the country,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “These cases deter bad actors by holding violators accountable for their actions and help maintain a level playing field for companies that follow the rules.” 

EPA has designated the reduction of childhood lead exposures as a high priority. The actions announced today support the agency’s implementation of the Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts issued December 2018.

Regulations promulgated under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (LHRA) apply to most pre-1978 dwellings and child-occupied facilities. These regulations – TSCA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, TSCA’s Lead-based Paint Activities Rule, and LHRA’s Section 1018 Lead Disclosure Rule (LDR) – require lead-safe work practices and disclosure of information about lead-based paint, among other things. By ensuring compliance with federal lead-based paint requirements, EPA can address a major source of lead exposure that occurs in communities across the nation.

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.

Included in the FY 2019 lead enforcement actions are EPA civil administrative proceedings and judicial civil and criminal prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice. Enforcement actions require alleged violators to come into compliance with the law and, in most cases, to pay penalties. In determining the appropriate civil penalty amount, the agency considers a violator’s ability to pay, ability to continue to do business, and other factors. In many of the settlements announced today, EPA reduced the penalty because the cases involved small-scale lead-based paint businesses. Also, in some settlements the alleged violator has agreed to perform a Supplementary Environmental Project (SEP) or other project to help prevent lead exposures.  

Selected highlights include:

Investment Properties, LLC (ME) is subject to a $82,896 penalty under an administrative Default Order, for failing to respond to allegations regarding LDR violations. Default Orders are subject to collection by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 

Euro-Tech, Inc. (IL) paid a $52,793 penalty to settle alleged RRP violations associated with window renovations at 42 residences over a 5-year period.

Gerald Wojtalewicz (NE) pled guilty and was sentenced to a $7,500 fine for LDR violations associated with lead poisoning. Wojtalewicz leases approximately 160 properties in the North Omaha area (an Environmental Justice community). A tenant’s two-year old child had an elevated blood-lead level. EPA had issued two prior notices to Wojtalewicz for alleged LDR violations years.

Smith Rentals, LLC (WV) paid $56,114 to resolve 22 alleged violations for failure to provide lead-based paint notifications. 

Mohammad Sikder and District Properties, LLC (DC) pleaded guilty to violating requirements for lead disclosure and lead-safe renovation work practices. Sentencing is set for November 2019. Also, Sikder’s company, District Properties LLC, pleaded guilty to making false statements in building permit applications, which understated the age of properties. The charges against Mr. Sikder carry up to 12 months in prison and potential fines. He and the government will jointly recommend a $50,000 fine in addition to any prison time. The company has agreed to pay a $150,000 criminal fine and to put another $25,000 towards funding lead-based paint compliance trainings in the area.

High Rise Build & Design Inc. and Somattie Surujnarine (NY) received final judgments against them at $48,000 each plus interest, handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The court issued the final judgment based on sanctions the defendants had incurred for failure to comply with an earlier Contempt Order stemming from the defendants’ failure to comply with an EPA subpoena that sought information about their RRP Rule compliance.  

To see a full list of the FY 2019 lead enforcement actions: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/epas-lead-based-paint-enforcement-helps-protect-children-and-vulnerable-communities-2019

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

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