The single most important action that governments can take to address neglected housing with poorly maintained lead paint is the aggressive enforcement of existing laws through either administrative actions or, if necessary, court enforcement.
When interior lead paint was made more than 50 years ago, it was a legal product. Today, federal and state agencies say good maintenance is the best way to deal with existing lead paint. In fact, every federal, state and local law on the books puts the obligation on landlords to prevent or abate lead-based paint hazards. This is no different than the requirements on landlords to provide safe premises, heat or clean water.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that lead paint, if it is well maintained and intact, typically poses no health risk. In August 2005, the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said: “[T]he specific addresses of housing units at which children repeatedly have been identified with elevated [blood lead levels] are known to local officials.”
Enforcement of current law requiring property owners to keep their properties in a safe condition and free of lead hazards is the best way to reduce elevated blood lead levels in children. Under the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, landlords and sellers are required to disclose information on lead paint on all pre-1978 housing.
EPA Home Renovation Guidelines – Effective April 22, 2010
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a rule mandating the use of lead-safe work practices on renovations in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities. Beginning in April 2010, renovators must be trained and certified in lead-safe renovation practices. They must also follow strict guidelines for demolition and cleanup. A summary of the certification requirements can be found on the EPA’s Web site by clicking on this link.
While courts have consistently held that landlords are responsible for hazards from old lead paint, not one fully adjudicated case has held the former manufacturers responsible.
Below is a sampling of links to court and administrative actions.
FEDERAL, STATE OR LOCAL ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS:
November 22, 2004 -- HUD and EPA Settle Case Against Massachusetts-based Landlord -- 10,000 Apartments in Seven States and D.C. to Become Lead Safe Agreement covers more than 7,000 apartments in Massachusetts
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