Emphasizing efforts to protect children’s health and raise awareness about the health risks associated with childhood lead exposure during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 is highlighting 12 federal enforcement actions taken this fiscal year in New York and New Jersey.

By ensuring that entities like renovation contractors, landlords, property managers, realtors and others comply with rules that protect the public from exposure to lead from lead-based paint, EPA can address a leading source of lead exposure for children across the nation, officials suggest. Exposure to lead dust, chips or debris from lead-based paint can pose serious risks to human health, particularly for young children. Earlier this year, EPA announced tighter standards for lead in dust on floors and window sills to protect children from the harmful effects of lead exposure.

“When businesses and individuals break these laws and cut corners to save time or money, our families, and especially our children, suffer,” said EPA regional administrator Pete Lopez. “Reducing childhood lead exposure and addressing associated health impacts is one of EPA’s top priorities and we are committed to tightening and enforcing standards that were made to protect our homes and families.”

From October 2018 through September 2019, EPA’s Region 2 office entered into a total of five consent agreements, four expedited settlement agreements and two judicial orders, as well as issued one administrative complaint with entities operating in New York and New Jersey. While neither state has delegated the Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Rule or the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, New Jersey has delegated authority to implement and enforce the Lead-based Paint Activities (Abatement) Rule. EPA has a list of compliance agreements and complaints that can be found here.

Each year, EPA Region 2 receives hundreds of referrals from local health departments and complaints from the public concerning unsafe work practices during renovations or lead abatements. Property owners and landlords’ failures to provide the required lead disclosure are also referred to EPA. In response, Region 2 conducts approximately 100 compliance monitoring activities of contractors and property managers per year, including on-site inspections and off-site records reviews. In 2019, EPA Region 2 provided over 300 contractors and property owners/managers with compliance assistance packages.

Regulations promulgated under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (LHRA) apply to most housing and child-occupied facilities built before 1978. TSCA’s RRP Rule, Lead-based Paint Activities Rule and LHRA’s Section 1018 Disclosure Rule require lead-safe work practices and disclosure of information about lead-based paint, among other things. Young children are most susceptible to the effects of lead, with lead-based paint being the biggest risk of exposure. Risks of lead poisoning include neurologic impairments, such as behavioral or learning issues, slowed growth and, in rare cases, seizures and death. A blood-lead test is the only way to determine if a child has an elevated blood-lead level. Parents who think their child has been in contact with lead should contact their child’s health care provider.

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