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Lewiston Landlord Will Make Improvements and Pay Fine to Address Lead Issues

February 16, 2005 (2:15 am EST)
Filed under: Residential Contracting by News Staff

From EPA Office of Public Affairs

Press Release

BOSTON - The owners of seven apartment units in the Lewiston area have agreed to pay a fine and to replace windows and doors containing lead-based paint at one of their residential housing properties in Auburn, ME to settle EPA charges that the companies failed to notify prospective tenants of risks from exposure to lead-based paint.

The Portland-based companies, Pier Properties, Inc. and Atlantic Holdings, LLC own and lease properties in several locations in Maine. EPA's investigation showed that the companies failed to notify tenants, as required by law, that there may have been lead-based paint within the living quarters of leased apartments, and failed to notify tenants of the risks from exposure to lead-based paint.

The settlement requires the companies to spend $26,565 to replace windows and doors that contain lead-based paint, and to pay a penalty of $2,880.

"Lead poisoning is a serious health concern for children in New England, because our states still have many older houses that can contain lead paint," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "It's very important that renters and buyers, especially with young children, get information they need to protect themselves and their children from potential exposure to lead paint."

Low-level lead poisoning continues to be widespread among American children. 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 due to children's young developing bodies. Elevated lead levels can trigger learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing and even brain damage. Pregnant women are also susceptible because lead exposure before or during pregnancy can alter fetal development and cause miscarriages.

Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of children under six years of age have elevated blood lead levels. Homes built before 1978, when lead in paint was banned, are more likely to contain lead paint. Because so much of New England's housing stock is older, childhood lead exposure continues to be a big concern in the Northeast.

This case is among more than a dozen lead-related civil and criminal cases EPA's New England regional office has initiated since expanding its lead enforcement and compliance and assurance program to make sure landlords and property owners are complying with federal laws that require them to notify tenants and prospective buyers of potential lead-paint hazards in their buildings. The EPA initiative has included more than 200 inspections around New England, as well as compliance assistance workshops to help landlords understand their legal responsibilities.

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.

Contact: David Deegan
EPA Office of Public Affairs
(617) 918-1017

Related Information:
Lead Paint Enforcement Program
Internet Training Course: Lead Safety for Remodeling, Repair, and Painting (EPA HQ)
Lead Poisoning, Lead Paint, etc.
Lead Paint Disclosure Rules

Source: EPA Release # dd050207 (February 1, 2005)


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