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Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., to Pay Civil Penalty and Replace Windows for Failure to Disclose Lead-Based Paint Hazards

Release Date: 08/31/2011
Contact Information: Chris Whitley, 913-551-7394, whitley.christopher@epa.gov


Environmental News


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Kansas City, Kan., Aug. 31, 2011) - Washington University of St. Louis, Mo., has agreed to pay a $2,778 civil penalty to the United States and spend at least $24,998 to replace old windows in its married student housing units to settle allegations that it failed to disclose the presence of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards to tenants prior to the leasing of some of its other housing units.

According to a civil consent agreement filed by EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Kan., Washington University leased three apartments at 6012 McPherson Avenue and 6048 McPherson Avenue, northeast of its Danforth Campus, to student tenants in 2008, 2009 and 2010, without disclosing to them that the City of St. Louis Health Department had previously cited the university for lead-based paint violations at those properties in 2000 and 2006.

The settlement alleges that Washington University stated in lead warning statements attached to those property leases that it had no knowledge of the presence of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in the units. The university also failed to provide tenants with records and reports of the city’s citations of the units.

Those actions were in violation of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, and the Toxic Substances Control Act, which require landlords and sellers of properties built before 1978 to disclose certain types of information about lead-based paint hazards to tenants and buyers prior to a lease or sale.

The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978. Lead that remains in pre-1978 housing can pose serious health risks to children when old paint chips or cracks away or turns to dust. High levels of lead in children can cause permanent damage to the brain and nervous system and other widespread health problems, such as reduced intelligence and attention span, hearing loss, stunted growth, reading and learning problems, and behavioral difficulties.

As part of its settlement with EPA, Washington University has agreed to perform a supplemental environmental project that will involve the replacement of approximately 103 old windows in married student housing units located at 6317 Cates Avenue, just west of its North Campus. Lead-based paint on surfaces subjected to regular friction, such as windows and door jams, commonly results in the deterioration of the paint and the increase of lead paint dust in a residence. This project, which will eliminate that particular source of lead-based paint dust in these residences, is expected to cost between $24,998 and $31,000.

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