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N.H. Landlord to Pay Penalty and Take Steps to Reduce Risk of Lead Poisoning ; EPA Settlement Affects Apartments in Manchester and Antrim

Release Date: 02/21/2008
Contact Information: Contact: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Feb. 21, 2008) - Manchester, N.H. landlord Juliet Ermitano will pay a penalty and take action to reduce the risk of lead poisoning at apartment buildings in Manchester and Antrim, N.H. This settles EPA claims that Ms. Ermitano violated lead paint disclosure laws at certain rental properties in Manchester.

Under the settlement, Ms. Ermitano will pay a $5,121 monetary penalty and complete interior and exterior abatement work to address known or presumed lead-based paint hazards at properties she owns. The exterior lead abatement work is at a combined apartment building and inn in Antrim, while the interior work is at an apartment building in Manchester. The abatement work will cost at least $46,087. To receive credit for any abatement completed, the settlement requires Ms. Ermitano to hire a licensed lead inspector/risk-assessor to conduct post-abatement clearance inspections at the properties - both built before 1920 - to ensure that no lead-based paint hazards remain after the work is done.

This settlement is one of three significant enforcement actions announced this week by EPA in New England states regarding violation of lead paint disclosure laws. The other cases involved Edgewood Village, Inc., a non-profit in New Haven, Conn. and Chestnut Hill Realty, a property manager of over 5,000 residential apartment units in the Greater Boston area and Rhode Island.

"Lead poisoning is a serious health threat for children in New England, because so much of our housing is older and may contain lead paint," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "It is critically important that renters and buyers get the information they need to protect themselves and their children from potential exposure to lead paint. This is especially important for pregnant women and families with young children."

The violations were identified through an EPA investigation that began in August 2006 and they were alleged in a complaint EPA filed in June 2007. EPA claimed that Ms. Ermitano did not comply with federal laws that require property owners, managers and sellers to provide information about lead-based paint and paint hazards before the lease or sale of any housing built before 1978.

Ms. Ermitano took prompt action to comply with the federal disclosure requirements once EPA started its investigation and she worked cooperatively with EPA to reach a speedy settlement.

The purpose of the Disclosure Rule is to provide residential renters and purchasers of pre-1978 housing with enough information about lead-based paint in general and known lead-based paint hazards in specific housing, so they can make informed decisions about whether to lease or purchase the housing.

Federal law requires that landlords and sellers who lease or sell housing built before 1978 comply with the following:
-provide a lead hazard information pamphlet that can help renters and buyers protect themselves from lead poisoning;
-include lead notification language in sales and rental forms;
-disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the housing and provide available reports to renters or buyers;
-allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers; and
-maintain records of compliance with federal laws for a period of three years.

Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure which can cause intelligence quotient deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavior problems. Pregnant women are also vulnerable because lead exposure before or during pregnancy can alter fetal development and cause miscarriages. Adults with high lead levels can suffer high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain. Childhood lead exposure is a particularly acute problem for urban children of low-income families who live in older housing.

More Information:

Lead paint health hazards: (epa.gov/region1/eco/ne_lead/index.html)

Lead-based paint disclosure rule: (epa.gov/region1/enforcement/leadpaint/index.html)

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