Salem Housing Authority Faces over $200,000 in Penalties for Lead Paint Disclosure Violations
The Salem Housing Authority has agreed to a settlement with EPA valued at nearly $235,000, including paying a fine and performing an environmental project, to resolve EPA allegations that the Authority failed to properly notify tenants about potential lead paint concerns in housing. The Salem Housing Authority (SHA) owns and manages 715 units of low-income housing scattered across Salem, Mass. in 23 separate locations.
Under the settlement, SHA will pay a cash penalty of $25,000 and perform a “supplemental environmental project” valued at $209,000 to settle alleged violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, and the federal lead paint disclosure rule. EPA’s complaint alleged that SHA had failed to provide tenants with information pertaining to lead-based paint before the tenants became obligated to lease apartments owned by the housing authority, as required by federal lead paint disclosure laws. Most of the leases in question involved families with children.
“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 additional project required under the EPA settlement involves promoting compliance with lead paint disclosure rules and other state and federal laws pertaining to lead paint. The Salem Housing Authority will hire a consultant to train all 235 state-assisted housing authorities in Massachusetts to achieve and maintain compliance with state and federal lead paint laws. The consultant will develop software, training materials, and conduct training sessions around the state to ensure that the housing authorities are in compliance with lead paint laws and regulations.
Federal law requires that sellers and landlords selling or renting housing built before 1978 must: provide an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet, called “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home”; include lead notification language in sales and rental forms; disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the living unit; and provide available records to prospective buyers or renters, prior to signing purchase and sale contracts and lease documents.
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.
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