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EPA AND HUD ANNOUNCE LANDMARK LEAD DISCLOSURE SETTLEMENT; MORE THAN 130,000 FAMILIES IN 47 STATES AND D.C. WILL BENEFIT

Release Date: 01/16/2002
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Also available in Spanish: "EPA Y HUD ANUNCIAN IMPORTANTE ARREGLO SOBRE DIVULGACIÓN DE INFORMACIÓN SOBRE EL PLOMO; SE BENEFICIARÁN MÁS DE 130,000 FAMILIAS EN 47 ESTADOS Y EN WASHINGTON, D.C."


U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT


FOR RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2002

EPA AND HUD ANNOUNCE LANDMARK LEAD DISCLOSURE SETTLEMENT;
MORE THAN 130,000 FAMILIES IN 47 STATES AND D.C. WILL BENEFIT

EPA: Luke Hester (202) 564-7818 / hester.luke@epa.gov
HUD: Brian Sullivan (202) 708-0685 / brian_sullivan @hud.gov




The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced the broadest lead disclosure settlement ever with one of the nation’s largest property management firms, the Denver-based Apartment Investment and Management Co. (AIMCO).
Residents living in more than 130,000 apartments in 47 states and Washington, D.C., will live in lead-safe units as a result of this landmark settlement.

“Protecting our nation's children from the dangers of lead-based paint is of paramount concern. Eliminating lead-based paint hazards in older low-income housing is essential if childhood lead poisoning is to be eradicated,”said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. “AIMCO is to be commended for its voluntary disclosure and other efforts to make its housing lead-safe. We urge other landlords to take their cue from this responsible action.”

“This agreement goes a long way in making certain parents can raise their children in safe and healthy homes,” said HUD Secretary Mel Martinez. “Not only are more than 130,000 apartments going to be certified lead safe, but today’s settlement demonstrates the value of management companies and landlords working closely with HUD to prevent our kids from being poisoned.”

AIMCO allegedly failed to warn its tenants that their homes may contain lead-based paint hazards in violation of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act. Under the settlement, AIMCO has agreed to test and clean up lead-based paint hazards in more than 130,000 apartments nationwide and pay a $129,580 penalty. The penalty and the number of units being tested and cleaned are the largest ever in a lead disclosure settlement.

Because AIMCO voluntarily disclosed violations of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, the company was able to significantly reduce its penalty. At the same time, HUD and EPA are ensuring that AIMCO’s properties will become free of lead-based paint hazards.

Approximately three-quarters of the nation’s housing stock built before 1978 (approximately 64 million dwellings) contains some lead-based paint. Of those, approximately 25 million housing units have lead-based paint hazards such as chipping and peeling paint and lead in dust, according to a recent HUD survey. When properly maintained and managed, lead-based paint poses little risk. However, nearly one million children have blood lead levels above safe limits, mostly due to exposure to lead-based paint hazards.

Background on Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992

Under the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, sellers and landlords of such housing must disclose the presence of known lead-based paint and known lead-based paint hazards and make available related reports to potential buyers or tenants. Buyers have several days before ratification of a contract to conduct a lead-based paint inspection or risk assessment at their own expense.

Today's announcement is one of several actions the federal government has taken to protect the public from exposure to lead-based paint hazards. They stemmed from violations discovered through traditional enforcement as well as violations voluntarily disclosed.

Background on Health Effects of Lead-Based Paint

Even at low levels, lead poisoning in children can cause IQ deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention spans, hyperactivity and other behavior problems. At higher levels, lead can damage a child’s kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death. Nearly one million of the nation’s children under age six have blood lead levels high enough to impair the ability to think, concentrate and learn. While average blood lead levels have declined over the past decade, one in six low-income children living in older housing is believed to be lead poisoned. Pregnant women poisoned by lead can transfer lead to a developing fetus, resulting in adverse developmental effects.

As part of the ongoing efforts to protect children from lead poisoning, EPA also adopted tough new hazard standards in March 2001 to identify dangerous levels of lead in paint, dust and soil. These standards are more protective than previous EPA guidance and, for the first time, provide home owners and others with enforceable standards to protect children from hazards posed by lead, including children in federal housing.

Further information on this action and other lead issues is available by phone and on the Internet, which can be accessed at most public libraries. General information and disclosure requirements are available on the Internet at www.hud.gov/offices/lead and www.epa.gov/lead and by phone by contacting the National Lead Information Center at
1-800-424-LEAD.http://www.epa.gov/lead Information on EPA’s Audit Policy is available at http://www.epa.gov/oeca/ore/apolguid.html
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