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EPA’s Lead-based Paint Enforcement Helps Protect Children and Vulnerable Communities

WASHINGTON  – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced 127 federal enforcement actions completed over the last year to protect the public, especially young children, from exposure to lead in paint.  Of these cases, 125 involved alleged noncompliance with at least one of the Agency’s lead-based paint requirements: the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, and Lead-based Paint Activities Rule; and the Lead Disclosure Rule pursuant to the Residential Lead-based Paint Hazard Reduction Act.  Two additional settlements resolved alleged Clean Air Act violations wherein companies committed to perform voluntary lead-based paint abatement projects.

From October 2016 through September 2017, EPA filed 123 civil lead-based paint administrative actions: 120 settlements and 3 outstanding civil Complaints.  Also, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in collaboration with EPA, obtained a guilty plea in a criminal prosecution and a Consent Decree in a civil case.  Several cases resulted from referrals by state and local authorities; and complaints from consumers and other companies.  Collectively, these settlements obtained $1,046,891.   EPA reduced the penalty in several cases, under pilot penalty programs for very small lead-based paint businesses.  EPA waived a $1.4 Million penalty where an entity satisfied all the conditions of EPA’s self-disclosure and new owner audit policies.  In five lead-based paint settlements, the violator agreed to fund a voluntary lead-based paint abatement Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP), such as window replacement, to eliminate lead risks.  Moreover, EPA and DOJ obtained abatement SEPs in two Clean Air Act enforcement actions.  Collectively, the SEPs are valued at $2,406,734.  Also, in several cases, violators agreed to perform injunctive relief or other measures beyond regulatory requirements. 

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Health and Environmental Effects

Lead exposure affects the nervous system and can cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and younger are most at risk. If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Behavior and learning problems, such as hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Headaches
  • Anemia
  • In rare cases of acute lead poisoning from ingestion of lead, seizures, coma and even death.

Lead can accumulate in our bodies over time, where it is stored in bones along with calcium. During pregnancy, lead is released from bones as maternal calcium is used to help form the bones of the fetus. This is particularly true if a woman does not have enough dietary calcium. Lead can also be easily circulated from the mother's blood stream through the placenta to the fetus. Mothers with high levels of lead in their bodies can expose their developing fetuses, resulting in serious and developmental problems including:

  • Miscarriages,
  • Premature births or low birth weight,
  • Brain damage, decreased mental abilities and learning difficulties, and/or
  • Reduced growth in young children.

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Pollution Reductions

Each enforcement action is expected to obtain compliance, and significant reductions in actual and potential lead exposure and environmental contamination.  Each settlement requires the alleged violator to come into compliance, resulting in reduced risk of lead exposure and contamination. Each Complaint contributes to reduced lead exposure by increasing awareness of, and ultimately compliance with, lead-based paint requirements.

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Enforcement Actions

Unless otherwise noted, each case listed below addressed alleged RRP Rule violations; and the settlement dollar categories reflect the civil penalty, or the civil penalty plus the value of any voluntary Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP).

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Criminal Prosecution

Maureen S. Walck (NY).  The real estate agent pled guilty to knowingly and willfully violating the Lead Disclosure Rule’s requirement to disclose lead-based paint information to a prospective home buyer, whose child was later diagnosed with lead poisoning.  Sentencing is pending.  The charge carries a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment and a $100,000 fine. 

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Civil Judicial Consent Decree

Accolade Construction Group, Inc. (NY) agreed to disgorge $58,000 in profits gained from alleged noncompliant renovations; and to perform significant injunctive relief, subject to stipulated penalties.  The City of New York referred the case to EPA.  The company had failed to comply with an earlier administrative agreement governing its renovations. 

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Notice of Determination

Estate of Anson Smith (MD).  The estate settled allegations of failure to disclose information about lead-based paint hazards in leases for nine properties, encompassing 62 rental units.  EPA determined that the violations merited a civil penalty of $1,402,006, but waived the penalty because the estate met all of the conditions of EPA’s self-disclosure policy and audit policy for new owners.

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Civil Administrative Settlements

Settlements of $100,000 or More

  • Pike International, LLC, et al. (CT) settled, agreeing to perform an abatement SEP costing $109,246 and to pay a $12,139 penalty. The State of Connecticut referred this case to EPA.
  • Haven Homes, Inc. (CA) settled, agreeing to pay a $148,618 penalty to settle alleged Lead Disclosure Rule violations. 
  • Cityside Management Corp. (NH) agreed to pay a civil penalty of $145,346 to resolve alleged RRP Rule and Lead Disclosure Rule violations involving failure to comply with requirements for training, certification, disclosure and recordkeeping.

Settlements of $50,000 or More

  • 5 MF Holding LLC (CT) agreed to perform of an abatement SEP valued at $65,700, and to pay a $7,300 penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Lead Disclosure Rule. 
  • Brady Sullivan Millworks II, LLC, et al. (NH) paid a 90,461 penalty to settle alleged RRP and Lead Disclosure Rule violations.  Both the State of New Hampshire and the City of Manchester referred the case to EPA. 

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Settlements of $40,000 or More

Settlements of $30,000 or More

Settlements of $20,000 or More

Settlements of $10,000 or More

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Settlements Less than $10,000

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Expedited Settlement Agreements

EPA entered into Expedited Settlement Agreements for alleged violations with the companies listed below.  These agreements allow violators to quickly resolve certain minor infractions with a reduced penalty, typically $2,000 or less. 

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Civil Complaints

The Complaints propose civil penalties up to the statutory maximum per violation under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

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Clean Air Act Cases with Lead-based Paint Supplemental Environmental Projects

The following settlements involving violations of the Clean Air Act obtained lead-based abatement SEPs, based on a nexus between the CAA violations and lead poisoning risks.

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