Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent letters to more than 300 home renovation and painting contractors, property management companies and landlords in the Nashua, N.H., area to alert them to an initiative to enforce the federal lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule.

EPA’s RRP Rule aims to prevent children’s exposure to lead-based paint hazards resulting from renovation, repair and repainting projects in residences, schools and other buildings. The rule requires renovators to be trained and certified so that they follow safe work practices during renovations of pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities in order to protect children from lead poisoning.

New England has an older housing stock than much of the country, which means lead paint is often present in buildings built before 1978, when lead paint was banned. Nashua is a high-risk area for lead poisoning because of the high percentage of housing built before 1978 (69 percent), the proportion of the population under age 6 and the number of children living in poverty.

Beginning in May, EPA will inspect renovation, painting and property management companies in the Nashua area for compliance with the RRP Rule.

EPA’s effort in the New Haven, Conn., area last year led to four enforcement actions against home renovators with proposed penalties as high as $67,000. Since then, about 73 firms in the New Haven area have become certified under the RRP rule, which went into effect in April 2010.

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