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EPA Orders Lead Removal at Dance Studio in Fall River

Release Date: 09/05/2001
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1014

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday ordered an immediate cleanup of lead contamination at a commercial property in Fall River, Mass. that houses several businesses, including a dance studio for children and adults. The property owner has agreed to perform the lead cleanup, and a contractor is already at work. Classes at the studio have been postponed until cleanup is complete.

"Lead levels in this building posed a serious potential health risk, especially for children who had signed up for fall dance classes," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "Thanks to great cooperation among the state of Massachusetts, EPA and the property owner, we're now moving quickly to remove this threat."

The building, located at 275 Martine St., is a three-story former mill building now rented to a variety of commercial operations. During recent renovations, a contractor sandblasted lead paint without taking proper precautions, allowing lead-contaminated dust to spread throughout the building. Tenants contacted the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety, which brought in EPA when it realized it had no legal jurisdiction.

Preliminary results from EPA's sampling and a private lab showed high levels of lead in the dust from the sandblasting. When contacted by EPA, the property owner, Paul Carrigg, agreed to immediately hire a licensed lead abatement firm to remove lead dust from the building. EPA formalized the agreement with an administrative order issued late yesterday for the cleanup using its emergency powers under federal hazardous waste laws.

The lead abatement firm started work yesterday and is expected to finish by the end of the week. EPA personnel have informed tenants of the building about the situation, and the dance studio has agreed to postpone classes until cleanup is complete and testing confirms safe levels in the studio and stairways to the studio.

Lead is a toxic metal that is particularly dangerous to young children. High levels of lead can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and widespread health problems. In cities in Massachusetts, childhood lead poisoning rates are typically above 10 percent and, in some cases, are as high as 20 percent, with exposure to lead paint dust being the most common source of lead poisoning.