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EPA acts to protect children from lead-based paint hazards in eight Northern Calif. communities

Release Date: 10/22/2014
Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, 415-972-3165, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

Untrained and uncertified companies renovating homes and schools can put children at risk

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced settlements with construction companies in Calif. that were not EPA-certified to handle lead-based paint safely before or during renovations in older housing and schools. The lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting rule requires companies to be properly trained and certified before working in pre-1978 homes and schools. The rule is designed to prevent children from coming into contact with hazardous lead dust.

“More than half a million children in America have blood lead levels high enough to cause learning disabilities and behavior problems,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Lead-based paint remains in tens of millions of homes and is the main source of lead exposure for children, so contractors have to be trained and certified to ensure renovations are done safely.”

EPA recently settled with the following nine companies for failing to be certified before advertising, bidding on, or performing renovation and repair projects in older housing and schools. Each company was ordered to pay a $1,000 civil penalty and, in most cases, required to complete training and obtain certification:

-- A & D Construction Inc., Hayward
-- AB Builders, Pleasant Hill
-- CF Contracting, Fairfax
-- Cogent Construction & Consulting Inc., San Francisco
-- EF Brett & Company Inc., San Francisco
-- Nema Construction, Albany
-- Regency Construction Company Inc., Carmel Valley
-- Southland Construction Management Inc., Pleasanton
-- Welliver Construction, Eureka

EPA enforces the federal Toxic Substances Control Act and its Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule to protect children from exposure to lead-based paint hazards from renovation and repair activities that can create hazardous lead dust when surfaces with lead-based paint are disturbed. Contractors who disturb painted surfaces in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities must be trained and certified, provide educational materials to residents, and follow safe work practices. The U.S. banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978 but EPA estimates that more than 37 million older homes in the U. S. still have lead-based paint.

Nationwide, more than 100,000 contractors have completed the process to become certified. A single day of training is required to learn about the lead-safe work practices, but many companies continue to operate without training or certification and without regard for the potential harm to children. EPA continues to pursue enforcement against companies that are not certified and uses information from the public to help identify violators.

Lead exposure is more dangerous to children than adults because children’s growing bodies absorb more lead, and their brain and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead, which include: behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and damage to the brain and nervous system. Children under six years old are at most risk. Currently, no level of lead in blood has been identified as safe for children.

During National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, October 19-25, EPA hopes to show parents, schools, contractors and others how to reduce a child's exposure to lead and prevent its serious health effects.

More information on National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: http://www2.epa.gov/lead
Find a certified contractor in your area: http://cfpub.epa.gov/flpp/searchrrp_firm.htm
Notify EPA about lead paint violations in Calif.: http://www.epa.gov/region9/lead/tips-complaints.html

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