EPA Gets the Word Out on Lead Paint in New Hampshire and Maine Seacoast

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News Releases from Region 01

05/01/2019

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PORTLAND/PORTSMOUTH – During the spring and summer of 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) New England regional office conducted a targeted initiative to improve compliance with laws that protect children from lead paint poisoning in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire and Maine.  

During the initiative, EPA conducted extensive outreach in greater Portsmouth, Portland, and in communities between and surrounding those cities to ensure that home renovation and painting contractors, property management companies, and landlords understood their legal obligations to inform customers/tenants about potential lead paint hazards and to follow measures to reduce exposure to lead during home renovation projects.

“Protecting children by reducing lead exposure is vitally important and is a high priority for EPA,” said Deborah Szaro, Acting Regional Administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Throughout New England, including the Maine and New Hampshire seacoast areas, there are many older residences and buildings that haven’t been renovated, and lead paint may still be found in these properties. Lead paint and dust hazards created during renovations continue to be sources of potential exposures to children.”

During the lead paint compliance initiative in the Seacoast area, EPA completed 59 lead inspections over two years, leading to 286 more certifications of companies or firms and 1,156 more training certifications of individuals documenting their compliance with the certification aspects of federal lead renovation rules. There are also critical lead-safe work practices and recordkeeping requirements of the rules. At the onset of this initiative, EPA helped educate companies on the importance of these rules by distributing compliance materials to over 400 entities engaged in this work and by sharing with them information on local training opportunities.

The inspections identified violations resulting in various actions, some requiring the assessment of fines. Under one recent settlement, Campos Construction of Portland agreed to pay a $4,860 fine and to comply with the federal Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, which regulates lead paint renovation work and protects the public’s health. This case was just one of many that EPA’s New England lead inspectors have followed over the last two years in the Portsmouth and Portland areas. Many of EPA’s inspections can result in warnings or fines, and most importantly to better compliance with lead-safe work procedures by renovation companies, meaning healthier children and families. Of the 59 inspections conducted, EPA has completed four enforcement actions, is pursuing penalty actions against a dozen or so more, and has issued non-penalty warnings to 14 others. Eighteen companies were found to be in good compliance. EPA continues to evaluate the compliance of a few remaining entities.

EPA continues to prioritize resources in New England to educate companies and inform the public about federal lead paint rules. The Seacoast initiative was designed to increase compliance with the federal lead-based paint RRP Rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act. EPA’s RRP Rule became effective in April 2010.

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 in order to document compliance with the law.

Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint 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 childrens’ health too. Because New England has a lot of older housing stock, lead paint is still frequently present in buildings that were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned.

Enforcing lead paint certification and worksite standards helps to level the playing field for companies who are doing the right thing by complying with the law, as well as helping to provide a safer and healthier environment for all residents as well as the workers themselves.

EPA engaged in similar efforts in the New Haven, Connecticut, area in 2014; in the Nashua, New Hampshire, area in 2015; and in the Lewiston/Auburn, Maine area in 2016. As a result of these efforts, EPA has educated thousands of individuals either engaged in this type of work or impacted by it, settled numerous formal and informal enforcement actions, and levied fines against the most serious violators. Importantly, because of the compliance assistance provided, many renovation firms have stepped forward to become newly certified and have sent their workers to be trained.

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Although lead paint has been identified as the primary source of childhood lead poisoning, there are other potential sources of lead, including drinking water, soil, air, and consumer products. EPA has information to help protect your family from exposures to lead: https://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-exposures-lead.

Federal lead paint information:

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