Lead Paint – Exposure is Real and is Still a Problem

Lead Paint – Exposure is Real and is Still a Problem

Exposure to lead dust is a serious health concern for kids AND adults. Renovation activities in homes are the leading causes of lead dust exposure for residents and workers, so it’s important to follow the risk reduction requirements in the RRP regulations and to have them in place before demo begins.

At the end of May, U.S. EPA announced that it had reached a settlement, imposing $80,000 in penalties to address violations of the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) regulations relating to lead paint (40CFR Part 745, Subpart E). The violations occurred during renovations at the University Towers condominium in Silver Spring, MD, and involved three companies: HBW Group of Rockville, MD, TSG Construction of Springfield, VA and Hunt and Walsh of Manassas, VA.

According to EPA’s press release, “this settlement will safeguard communities and ensure that important lead safe rules and regulations are in place.”

It is difficult to imagine how these fines will “safeguard communities,” but they certainly highlight regulators’ commitment to protecting public health. The revelation of these lead paint violations raises many questions and concerns for property owners, property managers, and the service companies who support building maintenance. Each of these groups can be held responsible for compliance violations and the ensuing financial liabilities.

  • Where was the property management company (Comsource) in the process of these renovations? Property managers have a duty to know the federal, state, and local regulations and to assure they are followed by contractors
  • How much lead dust was created by the renovations? Even a small amount of lead dust ingested by a child can result in catastrophic health concerns. There is NO SAFE LEVEL of lead in the human body, according to the Maryland Department of Environment.
  • How many persons were exposed? The RRP regulations outline controls to provide for protection of workers and residents. Without following these safeguards, everyone in the building can potentially be exposed.

Lead poisoning is 100% preventable. EPA promulgated the RRP regulations to assure that painters, electricians, plumbers, home repair companies and other professionals use lead-safe work practices to limit and prevent the spread of lead dust. These regulations require pre-demo assessments prior to beginning work to determine whether lead paint will be disturbed during the project. If lead paint is present, then the regulations outline engineering controls that must be in place during the work to prevent exposure and the spread of lead dust.

Hopefully, as the enforcement arm of EPA continues to patrol the home repair industry to assure the safety of non-suspecting residents, the threat of large fines will support proactive investment to protect tenants’ and workers’ health.