U.S. EPA requires Southern California companies to protect residents from lead-based paint dangers
LOS ANGELES TThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined two companies, Calspec Enterprises, Inc. and Waypoint Homes, Inc. a total of $46,550 for failing to comply with federal lead-based paint rules at several residential properties in Southern California.
“Lead-based paint is the main source of lead poisoning for children, which can cause learning disabilities and behavior problems,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA will take enforcement action against companies that fail to take the necessary steps to notify tenants or train workers to protect children, families and workers.”
Calspec Enterprises, Inc., (dba CalBath & Kitchen) is a general contractor located in Santa Ana, Calif., that performs residential bathroom and kitchen renovations. Under the settlement order, CalSpec will pay $21,210 for the violations of the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule. EPA found that between April 2012 and May 2014, Calspec renovated three residential properties in Cypress, Newport Beach, and Norwalk without:
ensuring that residents received the federal ‘Renovate Right’ brochure before the renovations took place
assigning a certified renovator to the renovations and ensuring that all workers were certified renovators or trained by a certified renovator; and
maintaining required records documenting that warning signs were posted, work areas were contained, and a certified renovator performed post-renovation cleaning verifications.
Waypoint Homes, Inc., located in Oakland, Calif., is one of the largest lessors of single-family homes in the United States. In 2013, EPA discovered that Waypoint entered into leases at five pre-1978 homes located in Riverside and San Bernardino without properly disclosing information about lead-based paint or lead hazards to tenants—including the federal ‘Lead Warning Statement’ in the lease contract—and confirming that tenants received the federal ‘Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home’ brochure. As a result of this violation of the lead-based paint Disclosure rule, Waypoint has paid a fine of $25,340.
Recently, EPA has also taken action against three additional Southern California companies. USS Cal Builders, Inc., located in Stanton, Calif., has paid a $1,000 penalty for violating the RRP rule. ColFin AI-CA 4, LLC, a subsidiary of Colony American Homes based in Santa Monica, and Port Street Realty Corporation located in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., have penalties totaling $4,690 for violating the Disclosure rule.
EPA enforces the federal Toxic Substances Control Act and its Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule and lead-based paint Disclosure rule. The RRP rule protects residents and children from exposure to lead-based paint hazards from renovation and repair activities that can create hazardous lead dust when surfaces with lead-based paint are disturbed. The Disclosure rule also requires that persons and entities who sell or rent housing built before 1978 must provide an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet; include lead notification language in sales and rental forms; disclose any known lead-based paint hazards and provide reports to buyers or renters; allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers; and maintain records certifying compliance with applicable federal requirements for three years.
Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips. When companies fail to follow the lead-safe practices during home renovations, the resulting lead dust and chips can contaminate home surfaces. Exposure to such contamination thru hand-to-mouth activities or inhalation can result in the lead poisoning of children, families and workers.
Contractors who disturb painted surfaces in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities must be trained and certified, provide educational materials to residents, and follow safe work practices. The U.S. banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978 but EPA estimates that more than 37 million older homes in the U.S. still have lead-based paint.
Lead exposure is more dangerous to children than adults because children’s growing bodies absorb more lead, and their brain and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead, which include: behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and diminished IQ.