EPA’s enforcement alert for lead paint laws protects human health and business

In October 2018, EPA released an enforcement alert from the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. The enforcement alert for lead paint laws intends to “protect human health, ensure renovators comply with requirements, and promote level playing field.” The Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule from EPA covers industrial or construction activities that disturb lead-based paint (LBP). EPA’s 2018 enforcement alerts serve as a reminder of the importance of following LBP laws. This is because even a small surface with lead-based paint without a license could result in fines, jail time, and human health problems.

The regulation covers activities such as remodeling, electrical work, window replacement, plumbing, and painting. Following lead-safe work practices is crucial to protect human health and also to comply with regulations. In fact, in 2018, partially due to a number of LBP violations, EPA announced 141 federal enforcement actions to protect the public from LBP.

Recent LBP violations and EPA

Bitner Brothers

In May 2018, Bitner Brothers Construction of Pennsylvania plead guilty to two counts of “knowingly violating lead-safe work practices under federal law.” The company used power grinding equipment without a vacuum or shroud in an apartment building with families and young children. The maximum penalties are $200,000 fine and up to a year in prison for this type of violation. Charles Bitner, the president and owner of the company, received a mild penalty. He was sentenced to a $10,000 fine, a $125 assessment fee, and two years of probation for the company. During the probationary period, Bitner Construction cannot perform any activities which require skills, training, or certification related to LBP.

Magnolia Homes

Magnolia Homes, based in Waco, Texas, received EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board’s decision regarding LBP violations in June 2018. Certain home renovations that appeared on the show Fixer Upper violated LBP regulations. This resulted in a settlement in which Magnolia implements “an internal monitoring program” to avoid these violations in the future. Magnolia is also putting up a video on its social media and website featuring one of the stars of Fixer Upper. Additionally, Magnolia is to spend $160,000 on lead abatement programs in Waco, Texas. Further, Magnolia paid $40,000 in civil penalties for the LBP violations. Waco citizens “are at the highest risk for exposure to dust from LBP”. In September 2018, Waco approved a city-wide lead ordinance approving lead testing because of its elevated levels of lead in children.

Realtor Maureen S. Walck

In September 2017, a New York realtor Maureen Walck plead guilty “to knowingly failing to provide a required lead paint hazard warning notice.” Walck’s negligence resulted in the lead poisoning of a child, and she was ordered to pay a total of $54,000 of fines and restitution.The purchasers of the home were unaware of the LBP hazards. They therefore bought the home without receiving the legally required disclosure.

Read the full EPA enforcement alert here.