October 25, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has launched a multi-faceted initiative to protect the public, especially children, from exposure to harmful levels of lead-based paint. The EPA’s new focus on environmental and public health issues arising in homes and apartments should be a concern to contractors who renovate or repair homes constructed before 1978 and landlords and property managers who lease older properties to tenants. Failure to disclose actual or potential lead hazards as required by EPA regulations may subject these companies and individuals to an EPA enforcement action.

EPA is publicizing National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week October 23 to 29, 2011 to raise awareness of lead poisoning in children. EPA notes that exposure to even low levels of lead causes developmental impacts including learning disabilities, decreased intelligence and speech, language, and behavioral problems which can effect children for a lifetime. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson noted that lead poisoning “is entirely preventable if we take the right steps to protect our children in all places where they live, learn and play.”

EPA has targeted lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings. EPA notes that lead most commonly occurs in the environment as a result of improper repair or renovation of homes constructed prior to 1978. A ban on lead in paint went into effect in 1978. The EPA’s lead initiative is different than many other federal regulatory programs because the focus is on homes, apartments and children instead of regulations that apply to manufacturing operations or releases of pollutants to soils, groundwater, waterways or the air.

In promoting lead poisoning awareness, EPA is directing the public to resources for homeowners and renters to test their homes and for parents to test their children blood levels for lead. In addition to educating the public, EPA has the authority to conduct inspections and investigations of contractors involved with renovation or remodeling as well as landlords and property managers who lease homes or apartments in buildings constructed prior to 1978. When EPA finds violations of disclosure requirements, EPA may take enforcement action. Resources related to the EPA regulations that apply to contractors involved with renovation, repair or remodeling can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm. Property owners, landlords and property managers can find information about required disclosures at:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/healthy_homes/enforcement/disclosure andhttp://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadbase.htm.

The environmental law attorneys at Hessian & McKasy counsel clients on compliance with federal and state environmental regulations, including contractors, landlords, property owners and individuals who are subject to the requirements of federal laws including EPA rules relating to lead based paint disclosures. We work with clients in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa as well as in states across the country. We conduct audits of disclosures and compliance programs. For information about our professional services or a consultation as to services, please contact environmental law attorney Joseph Maternowski atjmaternowski@hessianmckasy.com or 612-746-5754.

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