EPA Reaches Lead Paint Settlements in California, Arizona

March 16th, 2018 by Editor

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced six lead paint enforcement actions in California and Arizona that brought in a total of $287,000 in settlements  during the past year.

“Lead paint is one of the most common sources of lead poisoning in children,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA’s diligent enforcement of federal lead paint laws is not only necessary to protect communities across the country, but also ensures those who break the law are held accountable.”

EPA settled with the following companies for violations of the Renovation, Repair, and Painting  (RRP) Rule:

  • Best Value Home Improvements (Oakland, Calif.) – $38,990 penalty
  • Holland and Harley Construction (Berkeley, Calif.) – $14,210 penalty
  • K Kittle LLC, known as Rebath and 5 Day Kitchens (Phoenix, Ariz.) – $19,810 penalty
  • Renovation Realty (San Diego, Calif.) – $41,633 penalty
  • Simply Building (Daly City, Calif.) – $24,105 penalty

In addition to the penalties, each company made corrections to their operations, including becoming EPA-certified.

EPA also settled with Haven Homes (El Segundo, Calif.) for $148,618 for violations of the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule. In addition to the penalty, Haven Homes corrected company practices to become compliant with the rule.

It’s been a busy year for the agency when it comes to lead paint rules. In October 2017, EPA announced that it had completed 127 federal enforcement actions during the past year related to lead paint, mostly targeting contractors, landlords and property managers. All together, the actions led to $1,046,891 in penalties.

Lead exposure can cause behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems and reduced IQ. In 1978, the federal government banned consumer uses of lead-containing paint, but it is still present in millions of older homes, sometimes under layers of new paint.

The EPA’s RRP rule requires any renovation work — including door and window replacements — that disturbs more than six square feet of a pre-1978 home’s interior to follow expensive work practices to protect residents from exposure to lead, which can be especially dangerous for little children. The work must be supervised by an EPA-certified renovator and completed by an EPA-certified renovation firm.

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and other industry groups argue that the extra cost associated with lead-safety procedures prevents many homeowners in older buildings from replacing their windows, which often aren’t energy-efficient. At its 2017 legislative conference in Washington, D.C., WDMA urged members of Congress to sign a letter to the EPA asking the agency to consider changes to the rule, such as restoring the opt-out provision for homes without a child under the age of six or a pregnant woman. The lack of an accurate test kit for lead paint is also an issue that WDMA wants the EPA to address.

According to the EPA, approved test kits for the RRP rule have a failure rate of between 22.5 percent and 84 percent, and WDMA says false positives have led to millions of dollars in extra costs for homeowners. Additionally, the removal of the opt-out provision more than doubled the number of homes subject to the RRP rule.

In January, a federal appeals court ordered the EPA to revise its lead-paint standards within 90 days and write new rules within a year.

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