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Massachusetts Landlord to Pay Penalty and Take Steps to Reduce Risk of Lead Poisoning - EPA Settlement Affects Apartments in Springfield, Lawrence and New Bedford

Release Date: 01/11/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, 617-918-1017

(Boston, 01/11/06) - A Weston, Mass. landlord, Dr. Anthony Ping Zuo and Great Wall Properties, LLC, will pay a fine and take action to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in apartment units in Springfield, Lawrence and New Bedford. This settles EPA claims that he and his company violated lead paint disclosure laws at rental properties located in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Under the settlement, Dr. Zuo and Great Wall Properties will pay a $17,800 fine, replace over 125 old windows and perform other projects to remove both interior and exterior lead hazards associated with over 20 apartments in the three Mass. communities. The window replacement and lead abatement projects will cost approximately $179,000.

"Lead poisoning is a serious health threat for children in New England, because so much of our housing is older and may contain lead paint," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "It is critically important that renters and buyers get the information they need to protect themselves and their children from potential exposure to lead paint. This is especially important for pregnant women and families with young children."

The violations were identified during the course of an investigation that EPA began in July 2003, and were included in a complaint filed in June 2005. EPA claimed that Dr. Zuo and Great Wall did not comply with federal laws that require property owners, managers and sellers to provide information about lead-based paint present in housing built before 1978.

Once Dr. Zuo and Great Wall learned of the lead disclosure laws during EPA’s investigation, they took steps to comply with the lead disclosure law and worked cooperatively with EPA to reach a settlement.

The purpose of the Disclosure Rule is to provide residential renters and purchasers of pre-1978 housing with enough information about lead-based paint in general and known lead-based paint hazards in specific housing, so that they can make an informed decision about whether to lease or purchase the housing.

Federal law requires that sellers and landlords selling or renting housing built before 1978 must:

- provide a lead hazard information pamphlet that can help renters and buyers protect themselves from lead poisoning;
- 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.

Under the terms of the EPA settlement, Dr. Zuo and Great Wall agreed to replace approximately 128 old windows, complete interior de-leading work in approximately 13 dwelling units and install new siding on the exterior of 3 apartment buildings in Springfield, Lawrence and New Bedford, Mass. The buildings were all constructed before 1950. Old windows are a major culprit in residential lead poisonings because the action of opening and closing windows can abrade lead-based paint on the windows, creating lead-containing dust. Loose lead-based paint present on interior surfaces is also a major contributor to residential lead poisonings. Lead-based paint present on the exterior of houses and buildings is a source of lead contamination in soils.

Childhood lead exposure is a particularly acute problem for urban children of low-income families who live in older housing. According to data published by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, Springfield, Lawrence and New Bedford, Massachusetts, are all high risk communities for childhood lead poisoning. “High risk communities” are those whose rate of childhood lead poisonings exceed the overall state rate.

Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure which can cause intelligence quotient deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavior problems. Pregnant women are also vulnerable because lead exposure before or during pregnancy can alter fetal development and cause miscarriages. Adults with high lead levels can suffer high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.

For more information on lead hazard issues in New England, see: .

For additional information on the lead-based paint disclosure rule, see: .

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