EPA New England Announces Lead Inspection Sweep in Overburdened Connecticut Counties to Help Prevent Childhood Lead Poisoning
BOSTON (May 25, 2022) – Beginning late May and continuing throughout the construction season, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 1 (EPA New England) will start a lead inspection sweep in Hartford, Fairfield, and New Haven counties in Connecticut. This initiative is one part of EPA New England's broader, continued efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning in Connecticut communities, which have historically been overburdened with a higher risk of lead exposure. 1,024 Connecticut children under age six had elevated blood lead levels in 2020.
"At EPA we are determined to assure that families are not concerned about their kids being exposed to lead. So, it's a priority for EPA to ensure compliance with federal lead paint rules, and we have a special obligation to protect children in communities that may have shouldered a disproportionate share of exposures to lead," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "EPA is tackling the issue of childhood lead poisoning using all available tools – including assistance, enforcement and funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for lead pipe replacement."
During this initiative, inspectors will evaluate compliance with the Toxic Substances Control Act's lead paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, applicable to renovation job sites involving housing and child-occupied facilities built before 1978. Field staff will also be checking that landlords, including property management companies, are providing prospective tenants with proper lead disclosure about the presence of lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards. Lead Disclosures are required, under Section 1018 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, before the sale or lease of most housing built before 1978. EPA anticipates it will pursue enforcement actions, if necessary.
In 2020, EPA New England began a cross-office, multimedia lead initiative involving outreach, education, compliance assistance, and enforcement activities in Hartford and Fairfield counties. EPA is now focusing on a broader effort in Hartford, Fairfield, and New Haven counties because those counties were identified as areas with a higher risk of lead paint exposure due to older housing stock, high rates of renter occupied housing, a high percentage of households with incomes below the poverty level, and data showing elevated blood lead levels of children residing there.
EPA's lead paint initiative aims to reduce childhood lead exposure through increased awareness and improved compliance with the RRP Rule, the Lead Disclosure Rule, and the Safe Drinking Water Act's Lead and Copper Rule. The federal government banned consumer uses of lead-based paint in 1978; some states banned it even earlier. Homes built before 1978 are very likely to contain lead paint. Lead is particularly harmful to children because they are more vulnerable to its effects, which include damage to the brain and nervous system.
EPA is collaborating with the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CTDPH) along with local health and code enforcement officials in conducting this work. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EPA conducted remote or virtual activities for most of 2020 and 2021 and plans to engage in both virtual and traditional in-person activities in 2022.
CTDPH has a robust Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Program. EPA New England will build on this program's success and utilize local community-based expertise and knowledge to improve public health outcomes. EPA New England will also work with other local partners including nonprofit organizations to help raise awareness of how to prevent lead exposure especially in places where children live, learn and play. The goals of the initiative are to: (1) increase compliance with federal lead laws; (2) increase public awareness of federal lead laws and offer compliance assistance on how to prevent lead exposure; and (3) strengthen partnerships and leverage expertise and investments among federal, state and local government and community groups to help address lead disparities in overburdened communities in Connecticut.
In coordination with the state and local partners, EPA New England will conduct the following:
- Provide outreach, tools and training to the regulated community, including construction or property management firms that renovate early childhood education facilities, replace windows and/or perform home renovations that involve disturbing pre-78 painted surfaces;
- Deliver multimedia educational materials and compliance assistance information to the public;
- Conduct inspections in the target area; and
- Address violations using a range of tools including issuing penalty and non-penalty enforcement actions.
Other EPA Lead Efforts in Connecticut
On April 21, 2022, EPA New England partnered with New Britain ROOTS on an educational event in New Britain, Conn. where people were taught about potential lead contamination in their soil and how to avoid exposures to lead while gardening or playing in their yard. EPA analyzed 53 soil samples from nearby residents to promote awareness of lead in soil.
In addition to the regional efforts EPA has been making to reduce lead exposure in certain geographic areas, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, for Fiscal Year 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration dedicated $207,530,000 to lead pipe replacements in New England as a whole, and $28,350,000 for lead pipe replacements in Connecticut specifically. CTDPH will manage these funds under their State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, with 49 percent of this funding to be used in subsidies to benefit disadvantaged communities.
Over the past several years, EPA New England has conducted geographically focused outreach and compliance assistance efforts to raise awareness about lead-based paint hazards among painters and home renovation companies, property managers and landlords, as well as private homeowners.
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 RRP 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 RRP Rule requires that specific records be created and maintained to document compliance with the law.
EPA's Lead Disclosure Rule is designed to ensure that potential buyers and renters of housing built prior to 1978 receive certain information about lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the residence prior to becoming obligated to buy or rent, and provides the opportunity for an independent lead inspection for buyers. Sellers, landlords, and agents are responsible for compliance.
EPA's Lead and Copper Rule is designed protect public health by minimizing lead and copper levels in drinking water. The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes and brass or bronze faucets and fixtures. Lead enters drinking water mainly from corrosion of plumbing materials. EPA requires drinking water systems to test at the tap in certain homes, primarily those with lead service lines, which are expected to have higher lead concentrations. If 10 percent of the samples have concentrations that are greater than the action level, then the system must take steps to minimize exposure such as conduct water quality parameter monitoring, corrosion control treatment, source water monitoring/treatment, public education, and lead service line replacement.
Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure, which can cause lifelong impacts including developmental impairment, learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and behavioral problems. Lead exposures to pregnant woman can impact their unborn children's health as well.