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EPA Issues Complaint Against Lewiston, Maine Property Owners for Failure to Disclose Lead Paint Hazards
Release Date: 10/14/04
Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)
For Immediate Release: Oct. 14, 2004 Release # 04-10-21
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has issued a civil complaint against the owners and lessors of seven apartments in Lewiston, Maine for failing to properly notify renters of risks from exposure to lead paint, as required by federal law. The complaint includes a proposed penalty of $53,240.
The complaint stems from a December 2000 inspection by the state of an apartment where children had been reported with elevated lead levels. This was followed up by an investigation by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that determined that the owners of the seven units in question had failed to notify and disclose to tenants required information relating to potential lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards, in violation of EPA’s Lead Paint Disclosure Rule.
"Lead poisoning is a very serious public health threat in New England, especially in cities such as Lewiston, where apartment buildings and housing tend to be older," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "This case shows that we're serious about making sure renters and buyers get the information they need to protect themselves and their children from lead paint."
According to the complaint, six of the units were owned by Atlantic Holdings, LLC and one unit was owned by Pier Properties, Inc.
The case was carried out as a joint investigation by the Maine Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, EPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In December 2000, the state inspected a unit at 28 Horton St. where a tenant with two children had been living since August of that year. The children, ages one and two, had undergone a lead-poisoning screening and the results of that screening showed elevated lead levels.
This case is among more than a dozen lead-related civil and criminal cases EPA New England has taken since expanding its lead enforcement and compliance assurance program to make sure landlords and property owners are complying with federal laws, which require them to notify tenants and prospective buyers of potential lead-paint hazards in their buildings.
The initiative has included more than 200 inspections around New England, as well as compliance assistance workshops.
Federal law requires that sellers and landlords selling or renting housing built before 1978 must: provide an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet; include lead notification language in sales and rental forms; disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the living unit and provide available reports to buyers or renters; allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers; and maintain records certifying compliance with federal laws for a period of three years. Sellers, lessors, and real estate agents all share responsibility for such compliance.
Low-level lead poisoning is widespread among American children, affecting as many as three million children under the age of six, with lead paint the primary cause. In Maine, more than 300 of the children who were screened in 2001 had elevated blood lead levels.
Researchers have determined that children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning, both because of a higher probability of ingestion of lead paint particles (including lead contaminated dust) and because of a higher degree of vulnerability. Elevated lead levels can trigger learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing and even brain damage.
For more information on lead paint disclosure requirements and other issues regarding lead, visit the agency's web site at www.epa.gov/ne/topics/pollutants/lead.html
Internet Training Course: Lead Safety for Remodeling, Repair, and Painting (EPA HQ)
Lead Poisoning, Lead Paint, etc.
Lead Paint Enforcement Program
Lead Paint Disclosure Rules